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1794 TO 1805. 





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern 
District of New York. 

R. cr^AlGHEAD'S Power Pi*s., 
112 FuUoii-slreet. 


The Letters between Schiller and Goethe are a re- 
cord kept by friendship of the habitual feelings and 
thoughts of two great Poets. If the translator has 
adequately executed his grateful task, he will have 
the pleasure of opening to the American and Eng- 
lish reader the richest epistolary treasure that 
literature contains. There is no other instance of 
affectionate union between two men of such genius, 
intellect, and culture ; and that, under circumstances 
peculiarly adapted to promote a rapid interchange of 
letters. The correspondence, which consists of more 
than nine hundred letters, embraces ten years of the 
prime of both, and ended only with Schiller's life. 
At its opening, Schiller, who had recently been 
appointed by the Grand Duke of Weimar, Professor 
of History in the University of Jena, was in his 
thirty-fifth year, and Goethe, who was one of the 
Grand Duke's Ministers in Weimar, in his forty-fifth. 
This proximity of their places of residence fed the 
correspondence, by keeping their friendship warm 
through frequent personal intercourse. Their labors 
animated their letters, the letters created a want of 



the fuller and freer communication by conversation, 
conversation gave fresh impulse to their labors, and 
thus their friendship, founded on the broadest mutual 
esteem, and fostered by an ever active circle of invi- 
gorating influences, uttered itself in a correspond- 
ence as cordial as it is intellectual. Poetry, science, 
literature, religion, art, philosophy, subjects that are 
the familiar inmates of such minds, come up con- 
stantly, of course, and are touched v^ith the free and 
masterly strokes to be expected in confidential effu- 
sions betv^^een Goethe and Schiller. The reader 
rises w^ith them into the regions where such men 
have chiefly their being, and there v^ith them partakes 
of their w^holesome indifference to what are com- 
monly regarded as the great interests of life. In the 
easy, eager, private discussion of the principles that 
underlie the fundamental departments of human 
thought, we behold in a manner the secret growth 
of these two extraordinary minds. We witness the 
relaxation of giants : we can figure to ourselves what 
may be the sports of gods. 

In putting the German into English, the translator 
has been as direct and literal as is compatible with 
our own idiom, preserving at the same time, with the 
original, the laxness proper to a sincere epistolary 

Omissions are occasionally made of whole and 
parts of letters, chiefly of such as relate to business 
transactions connected with publishers, and with the 
editing of the Horen and Almanac. The former are 



indicated by stars, the latter will be perceived by 
chasms in the sequence of the numbers. A few 
brief notes are added for the assistance of the reader. 

This volume contains about one-half of the original 
work ; the remaining portion will follow in another 
volume of similar size.* 

The translator cannot withhold a few words on the 
passage relating to Goethe in the Phi Beta Kappa 
oration delivered at Cambridge in 1844. From its 
elevated birth-place that passage has flown over the 
whole land. On a formal public occasion a blind 
and most rude assault has been made on one of the 
mightiest of the dead, whose soul lives on the earth, 
and will for ages live, in the exaltation of the loftiest 
minds. Out of stale German gossip, out of shallow 
wailings of prosaic critics, shallower clamors of 
pseudo-patriots, uncharitable magnification of com- 
mon failings, in a discourse especially designed to 
enforce the virtue of truth, were compounded those 
pages reeking with calumny against one of the fore- 
most men of the world, and the most honored man of 
a people rich in virtue and in genius. Goethe is 
called " selfish, false," " a bad man," " whose name is 
throughout Germany almost a synonyme for disso- 
luteness," " a false man," guilty of " treachery and 

* This work was intended to make one of the " Specimens of 
Foreign Literature," the publication of which was discontinued two 
or three years since. As probably many who possess that valuable 
series of translations will like to connect this one with it, its title, 
through the courteous permission of the editor of the "Specimens," 
Mr. Riplev, has been adoDted. 




cold-blooded trifling with the peace and virtue of 
others," one who could with " the unruffled equani- 
mity of profound self-love calmly survey the ruin he 
had wrought in hearts that confided in him." On 
reading such phrases coupled with the name of 
Goethe, indignation gives place to astonishment at 
beholding this monstrous brood, begotten by pre- 
sumption upon a Pharisaical morality. 

Hard it is to conceive of a sound mind erring so 
grossly, with knowledge of the works of Goethe ; and 
harder to believe that it should dare to pronounce so 
sweeping a censure without wide and minute ac- 
quaintance with the chief source of evidence on the 
moral structure of a poet. How little outward testi- 
mony survives about Shakspeare ; but whoso can 
read his poetry, may get a knowledge of the man 
surer and more absolute than could have been gotten 
even from the fullest contemporaneous opinions. As 
the tree is known by its fruit, we know that the pa- 
rent of the Shakspearean progeny must have been a 
man in whom, in close alliance with a kingly intel- 
lect, dwelt, as well the virtues that ennoble, as the 
graces that beautify, and the aifections that sweeten 
life. Into whatever errors an ardent temperament 
may have drawn him, they dim not the lucent image 
of him fixed in our minds by study of his works ; 
nay, we presume not to wish them uncommitted, lest 
an attempt to better such a bounteous gift from God, 
should mar but by a tittle the original proportions of 
one the sum of whose life has been to the world an 



immeasurable benefaction. If of Goethe we knew 
no more than can be learnt from his works, in them 
there is that will convert the gall of such abusive 
generalities into a mere nauseating insipidity. When 
a bad man's brain shall give birth to an Iphigenia, 
a Clara, a Mignon, a Macaria, you may pluck pome- 
granates from Plymouth rock, and reap corn on the 
sands of Sahara. 

From the large composition of Goethe's mind, as 
exhibited in his poetry ; from the justness and clear 
humanity of his nature, deducible from his other co- 
pious writings, biographies, travels, criticism, letters ; 
from his known acts of usefulness and generosity ; 
the inference, to a judgment of healthy wholeness, is 
direct, that he was habitually upright and kind, a 
man who could not do an injury without atoning for 
it, nor err without repentance. Of himself, as a 
writer, he somewhere says, " when I must cease to 
be moral I have no power more ;" and if he had been 
one who " inwardly felicitated himself upon the rich 
accession to his artistic domain, furnished from suffer- 
ings he had himself wantonly caused," palsied would 
have been his hand ere he had written a verse, and 
the spring of poetry within him, — if such can be 
imagined ever to have existed in a mind of this 
diabolical capacity, — would have shrivelled to a pu- 
trid puddle. " If this is harsh judgment upon Goethe, 
the voice of his country is liable for it, and not I," 
says the address. Shame ! Shame ! W ere there 
even such a voice, what is it worth ? Hundreds of 



thousands, aye, millions of respectable people there 
are in this country, who through religious convic- 
tions proscribe the play-writer Shakspeare, and who, 
were they to read Collier's life of the man, would 
confirm the proscription through their moral code. 
But what evidence were this to cite before a high 
literary court ! 

Goethe is the most complete man of his time. He 
is the richest specimen of humanity since Shakspeare. 
In him the manifold capacities of our nature were 
centered in uncommon individual strength and rare 
aptness to refinement. With the spontaneous devel- 
opment inherent in such fertility, was early associat- 
ed a monarchical power of will over this affluence 
of resources. From youth to old age, his daily 
endeavor was to cultivate and purify his being. And 
thus, working his vast faculties of intellect and sym- 
pathy to the utmost, relieving the intense hours of 
poetic creation with scientific research, with the 
plastic arts, with critical elucidation, with the labors 
of the statesman, with the duties of theatrical direct- 
or, with the pleasures of friendship and hospitality, 
he went on his shining way, having had already in 
his youth the strength and art to master the fiery 
passions that threatened to devour him, and to harness 
them to the car of Poesy, in which, another Apollo, 
his brow bared to the airs of Heaven, and his eye 
glancing towards earth, he drove triumphantly and 
beneficently through the seasons of manhood, show- 
ering as he went the blossoms and flowers and fruits 



of poetry and wisdom. And yet, this man, so won- 
drously gifted, and so nobly using his gifts, to whom 
leading men throughout Europe, statesmen, artists, 
poets, philosophers, are thankful for their best cul- 
ture, whose long life ripened in the sunshine of un- 
broken friendships, who was revered by the spiritual 
Richter, whom the fervent aspiring Schiller loved 
and looked up to, this man, who to his fellow men 
has left a bequest to which that of a hundred Girards 
is but as a bushel of pebbles to the Pitt diamond, 
has been the object of all sorts of detraction, to 
which in this address a new accusation has been 
added, Goethe being here upbraided, for the first time 
surely, with being — an Artist ! 

" He was a great, an unequalled Artist, — Artist, 
that is the term everywhere applied to him, — a term 
which, as applied to literary men, I am sorry to find 
is getting into some repute amongst us as a term of 
commendation. In Europe, it is generally a term of 
disparagement, as indicating a writer whose inspira- 
tion passes not through the heart, and whose lofty 
sentiments have no home in his own soul, and no 
expression in his life." 

This is weakly to mistake the mimicry of smooth 
handiwork for creation, and the cold expertness of 
technical practice for the magic of genius. Art can- 
not be without the closest union of judgment and 
sensibility ; it implies a marriage between intellect 
and soul. It is the fairest offspring of the human 
mind. Its beginning of existence is a rising upward 



from the finite towards the infinite. Its Ufe is a 
struggle after perfection. Its home is in the inmost 
chambers of the spirit, where it is apparelled by- 
Beauty to shed radiance on the earth. Art does not 
merely copy nature, it cooperates with her, it inter- 
prets nature, it makes palpable her finest essence, it 
reveals the spiritual source of the corporeal by the 
perfection of its incarnations, and thus gives us re- 
glimpses into that realm whence 

" Trailing clouds of glory do we come." 

Art is mental procreation, and the mind of a peo- 
ple can no more grow without Art than its body 
can without generation. It embalms the past, it 
beautifies the present, it facilitates and widens the 
future. The Artist, therefore, whose ministry is so 
high, deserves to be, and is, cherished and honored 
as the refiner, vivifier, benefactor of his country and 
race. For instruction on this point, the writer of the 
address is referred to various passages in these let- 
ters, and to the poems of Schiller, whom he bepraises 
with such puerile incompetence ; and, for illustration, 
to the chief sources of glory and enduring influence 
among nations that have ascended to power and dig- 
nity. Without her Artists, her Dante, Michael An- 
gelo, Raphael, Canova, what were Italy ? They were, 
and they are, the soul of her being ; they still shield 
from contempt her down-trodden body. The great- 
est man of England, Shakspeare, is the foremost 
Artist of the world, and it was by his " so potent 



art" that he lifted his native land highest among the 
nations, and keeps her uplifted, as by an unrusting 
golden chain suspended from the vaults of Heaven. 
Second only to him is the German, Goethe, v^^ho by 
his single might raised a vi^hole great people in the 
scale of civiHsation : 

Sage, philosopher, naturalist and bard, 
Whose beautiful proportions, port serene, 

Disguise more fire and strength than oft have marr'd 
Less perfect natures ; who, with vision keen 

And culture wide, knew best how to enguard 
The brain- built structure with a thoughtful art. 
And unto each the fittest form impart, 
Baltimore, January, 1845. 




Respected Sir : 

The accompanying paper contains the wish of a circle, 
whose regard for you is unbounded, to honor the periodical 
work to which it relates with contributions from your 
hand. On the rank and value of what you may contri- 
bute, there can be among us but one voice. Your deter- 
mination to give your support to this undertaking, will be 
decisive of its successful issue ; and with the most willing 
readiness we will agree to whatever conditions you may 
attach to your accession to our proposal. 

Here in Jena, Messrs. Fichte,* Weltmann,! and Hum- 
boldt,J have united for the publication of this journal. And 
as, according to a necessary arrangement, the offered 
manuscripts will have to be decided upon by a smaller 

* The celebrated metaphysician. 

t A historian of note. 

X Brother to the well-known traveller. 




number, we shall be infinitely beholden to you if you will 
allow occasionally a manuscript to be laid before you for 
examination. The more extensive and intimate the parti- 
cipation with which you shall honor our undertaking, the 
more will its value rise in the eyes of that portion of the 
public whose approbation is most important to us. 

With the highest respect, I remain your obedient ser- 
vant and sincere admirer, 

Jena, June 19, 1794. 

Fr. Schiller. 


You open to me a doubly agreeable prospect, through 
the periodical work you design to publish, and through the 
participation in it to which you invite me. With pleasure, 
and with all my heart, I will be one of the company. 

If there be among my unprinted papers anything that is 
suitable for such a collection, I will communicate it wil- 
lingly. A closer connection with such sterling men as the 
undertakers of this work will, I am sure, give new life to 
much that is now stagnant within me. 

Of itself it will be a very interesting occupation, to dis- 
cuss and agree upon the principles by which the submitted 
articles shall be tried, and so to watch over substance and 
form, that this periodical Avork shall excel all others, and 
preserve its superiority at least for a series of years. 

I hope soon to communicate with you by word on this 
subject, and for the present take leave of you and your 
esteemed co-laborers. 

Weimar, June 24, 1794. 





Herewith you will receive back, with thanks, the 
Schockerian treatise ; v/hat I understand of it I like very 
well, the rest he will no doubt in time explain. 

At the same time I send Moritz and Diderot, and hope 
thereby to make my parcel useful and agreeable. 

Hold me in friendly remembrance, and be assured that I 
enjoy a lively pleasure in the prospect of a more frequent 
interchange of ideas with you. Present my respects to 
your circle. Unexpectedly I am obliged to go to Dessau, 
and must postpone for some time the pleasure of seeing my 
Jena friends. 

Weimar, July 25, 1794. 



Jena, 23d August, 1794. 

I RECEIVED yesterday the agreeable news that you had 
returned from your journey. We may, therefore, hope to 
see you soon among us again, which, for myself, I heart- 
ily desire. My entire store of thought has been set in 
motion by my recent conversations with you ; for they 
related to a subject which, for several years, has busily 
occupied me. On much about which I could not obtain 
perfect harmony within myself, the contemplation of your 
mind* (for thus I must call the full impression of your 
ideas upon me) has kindled in me a new light. I needed 
the object, the body, to many speculative ideas, and you 
have put me on the track of it. Your observing look, 
which rests so calmly and clearly on all things, keeps you 

* Die Anschauung Ihres Geistes. 



from getting into the by-roads, into which speculation, as 
well as an arbitrary imagination, obeying only itself, so 
easily goes astray. In your correct intuition lies all that 
analysis laboriously seeks, and only because it lies in you 
as a whole, is your own wealth concealed from yourself ; 
for, alas ! we only know that which we can take to pieces. 
Thence, minds like yours seldom know how far they reach, 
and what little cause they have to learn from philosophy, 
which can learn only from them. Philosophy can merely 
dismember what is given to it ; but the giving is not the 
affair of the Analyst, but of Genius, which, under the con- 
cealed, but secure, influence of pure Reason, combines 
according to objective laws. 

For a long time I have watched, although from some 
distance, the procedure of your mind, and ever with 
renewed wonder observed the track that you have marked 
out for yourself. You seek for the necessary (the abso- 
lute*) in Nature ; but you seek it by the most difficult 
route, which every weaker spirit will take care to avoid. 
You grasp in your view entire nature, in order to obtain 
light on her parts : in the totality of her manifestations 
you search for the key to lay open the individual. From 
simple organization you ascend, step by step, to the more 
complex, in order at last to construct out of the materials of 
the whole fabric of nature the most complex of all — man. 
By thus creating him, as it were, after nature, you seek to 
penetrate to the mystery of his structure. A great and 
really heroic idea, which shows how perfectly your mind 
combines in a beautiful unity the rich whole of its concep- 
tions. You can never have hoped that your life would 

* Sie suchen das Nothwendige der Natur. 



suffice to complete a plan like tins, but to have struck into 
such a path is worth more than to reach the end of any- 
other ; and you have chosen, like Achilles in the Iliad, 
between Pythia and Immortality. Had you been born a 
Greek, or even only an Italian, and had a choice Nature* 
and an idealising Art surrounded you from your cradle, your 
path would have been infinitely shortened. Then would 
you, on the first contemplation of things, have seized the 
form of the Absolute, and with your first experience would 
the great art of representation have developed itself in you. 
But, being born a German, and your Grecian spirit having 
been cast in this northern creation, there was left to you no 
other choice, but either to become a Northern Artist, or, 
by the help of the powder of thought, to supply to your ima- 
gination that which reality withheld from it, and thus, from 
within outwardly and through a reasoning process, to create 
as a Greek. At that period of life when the soul, sur- 
rounded by multifarious forms, constructs from the outward 
world its own inward one, you had taken in a wild and 
northern nature. Your victorious genius, triumphing 
over its materials, discovered this want from within, and 
through acquaintance with Grecian nature, was assured of 
it from without. Thus were you obliged to correct (by a 
model which your creative genius shaped for itself), the old 
inferior Nature already forced upon your imagination. 
Now this can only be efiected according to leading princi- 
ples. But this logical direction which the spirit of Reflec- 
tion is obliged to take, does not harmonize with the (Esthetic 
through which only can it create. Hence, you had one 

* By Nature is here meant the external world ; all that makes im- 
pressions from without upon the inward faculties of the mind. 



labor more ; for, as you first passed from Perception to Ab- 
straction, you were obliged now to retranslate ideas into intui- 
tions, and to change thoughts into feelings, for only through 
the latter can Genius produce. 

Such is the judgment I have formed of the procedure of 
your mind, and whether or no it is just, yourself will 
know best. But what you will hardly be able to know 
(for Genius ever remains the greatest secret to itself) is, 
the beautiful harmony of your philosophic Instinct with 
the pure results of speculative Reason. At first view, it 
seems as if there could not be two greater opposites than 
the speculative spirit, which deals with oneness, and the 
intuitive, which deals with manifoldness. If, however, 
the one, with coy and clear sense, seeks experience, and 
the other, with self-relying active thought, the law, it 
cannot fail but that the two will meet half way. True, 
the intuitive spirit has only to do with individuals, and the 
speculative with species. Yet, if the intuitive is genial, 
and consults experience, to learn the nature of the Abso- 
lute, the individuals it produces will have the character of 
the species ; and if the speculative spirit is genial, and 
loses not sight of experience in rising above it, the spe- 
cies it produces will contain the possibility of individual 
life and be constructed with the internal reference to real 

But I find that, instead of a letter, I am writing an essay 
— pardon it, and ascribe it to the lively interest with which 
the subject has filled me ; and should you not in this mir- 
ror recognize your image, I beg you, do not on that account 
turn away from it. 

The little work of Moritz, which Mr. Humboldt begs to 
be allowed to keep a few days longer, I have read with 



much interest, and am indebted to it for some important 
information. It is a real enjoyment, to give oneself a 
clear account of an instinctive proceeding, which may so 
easily lead one astray, and thus to set feeling right with 
principles. By follov/ing out Moritz's ideas, we observe 
by degrees a beautiful order show itself in the anarchy of 
the language ; and if, in so doing, we are led to discover 
the wants and limits of our language, we perceive its 
strength also, and learn how and to what purpose it may 
be used. 

The work of Diderot, particularly the first part, is very 
entertaining, and, for such a subject, handled with a very 
edifying decency. I beg to be permitted to keep it also 
some days longer. 

It would be well if we could get the new journal under 
way soon, and as you would perhaps like to open the first 
number of it, I take the liberty of asking you if you v/ould 
not be willing to let your novel* appear in it in numbers ? 
Whether, however, you determine to do so or not, you will 
do me a great favor by letting me read it. My friends 
and my wife beg to be kindly remembered by you, and I 
remain with high respect, your obedient servant, 

Fr. Schiller. 


For my birth-day, which falls in this week, no more 
agreeable present could have come to me than your letter, 
in which, with a friendly hand, you give the sum of my 
existence, and through your sympathy, encourage me to a 
more assiduous and active use of my pov/ers. 

Pure enjoyment and real benefit can only be reciprocal, 

* Wilhslm Mcistsr. 



and it will give me pleasure to unfold to you at leisure, 
what iny intercourse with you has done for me, — how I, 
too, regard it as making an epoch in my existence, — and 
how content I am to have gone on my way without par- 
ticular encouragement, as it now appears as if we, after a 
so unexpected meeting, are to proceed forward together. 
I have always prized the honest and so rare earnestness 
that is visible in all that you have written and done, and I 
may now expect to be made acquainted by yourself with 
the progress of your mind, particularly in the last few 
years. Shall we have once made clear to each other 
the points to which we have thus far attained, we shall 
then be the better able, without interruption, to work on 

All that relates to me, and is in me, I will gladly 
impart. For, as I feel very sensibly that my under- 
taking far exceeds the measure of the faculties of one 
earthly life, I would wish to depose much with you, and 
thereby not only give it endurance, but vitality. 

Of how great profit will be to me a closer intercourse 
with you, yourself will soon perceive, when, on a near 
acquaintance, you discover in me a kind of obscurity and 
holding back, which I cannot entirely master, notwith- 
standing I am perfectly conscious of it. Like phenomena 
are often found in our nature, to whose government we 
unwillingly yield, when she is not too tyrannical. 

I hope soon to pass some time with you, and then 
we will talk over much together. 

Unluckily I had sent my novel to Unger* a few weeks 
before your invitation, and-the first printed sheets are al- 

* A bookaeller. 



ready in my hands. More than once the thought has 
occurred to me lately that it would have been very suitable 
for the Journal. It is the only thing that I now have 
which has bulk, and is a kind of problematical composition 
such as our good Germans like. 

I will send you the first Book as soon as the proof- 
sheets are together. The work has been so long written, 
that in the strictest sense T am only the publisher. 

For the rest, if there be among my projects anything 
that would serve the purpose you mention, we could easily 
agree about the most fitting form to put it in, and there 
should be no delay about the execution. 

Farewell, and remember me in your circle. 

Ettersburg, 27th August, 1794. 



The accompanying sheets I could only send to a friend 
from whom I can hope that he will meet me half way. 
In reading them over again, I seem to myself like the boy 
who undertook to drain the ocean with the hollow of his 
hand. I will take the liberty of sending you hereafter 
other such impromptus. They will excite, enliven, and 
give a direction to our conversation. Farewell, 

Weimar, 30th August, 1794. 



Jena, 31st August, 1794. 

On my return from Weissenfels, whither I had been to 
meet my friend Körner, from Dresden, I received your 
letter of the 27th, the contents of which were doubly agree- 
able to me ; for 1 perceive from it that in the view I took 




of your being I met your own feelings, and that the candor 
with which I spoke what I felt did not displease you. 
Our acquaintance so long deferred, but which now awak- 
ens in me so many delightful hopes, is to me another 
proof how much better it often is to let chance have its 
own way, than to forestall it by too much officiousness. 
However strong my desire has always been to enter into 
a closer relation with you, than is possible between the 
spirit of a writer and his most attentive reader, yet now I 
perceive clearly, that the very different paths in which 
you and I moved, could not have brought us together with 
advantage sooner than just at this time. But now, I can 
hope that we shall travel together the rest of our way, 
and with the greater profit, inasmuch as the last travellers 
who join company on a long journey, have always the 
most to say to one another. 

Do not look for any great store of ideas in me : this is 
what I shall find in you. My need and endeavor is, to 
make much out of little ; and when, on a closer acquaint- 
ance, you shall discover my poverty in all that is called 
acquired knowledge, you will perhaps find that I have 
sometimes been successful in doing it. Because my circle 
of ideas is small, I can the more rapidly and oftener run 
through it, and on that very account use my little store 
with more effect, and produce through outward form the 
variety which is wanting in materials. You strive to sim- 
plify your great world of ideas ; I seek variety for my 
little possessions. You have a kingdom to govern : I 
only a tolerably numerous family of ideas which I would 
very gladly enlarge to a little world. 

The working of your mind is intuitive in an extraordi- 
nary degree, and all your thinking powers seem to have, 



as it were, agreed to refer to your imagination as their 
common representative. At bottom, this is the highest 
that a man can do for himself, if he can succeed in gene- 
ralizing through his perceptions and in reaching principles 
through his feelings. To do this is your endeavor, and to 
what a degree have you already attained this end ! My 
understanding works more symbolically, and thus I fioat, 
like one with two natures, between ideas and perceptions, 
between the technical head and Genius. This it is which, 
particularly in my early years, gave me sometimes an 
awkward appearance, as well in the field of speculation as 
in poetry ; for commonly the Poet overtook me when I 
ought to have philosophized, and the philosophic spirit, 
when I wished to be poetical. Even now, it often hap- 
pens to me, that imagination intrudes upon my abstrac- 
tions, and cold understanding upon my poetical moods. 
If I can obtain such mastery over these two powers, as to 
be able in my freedom to assign to each its limits, there is 
yet in store for me a beautiful lot ; but, alas ! just as I have 
begun properly to know and use my moral powers, a dis- 
ease threatens to undermine my physical. I can scarcely 
hope to have time to complete a great and general mental 
revolution in myself, but I will do what I can ; and when 
at last the building falls, I shall, perhaps, still have 
snatched from the ruin what is worthy to be preserved. 

You wished that I should speak of myself, and I have 
made use of the permission. With frankness I entrust to 
you these confessions, and may hope that you will receive 
them with cordiality. 

I abstain to-day from going into the details of your 
view, which at once gives to our communications on this 
subject the most profitable direction. My ownreoearches, 



entered upon by a different route, have led me to a result 
very similar to that at which you have arrived, and in the 
accompanying papers you will perhaps find ideas which 
coincide with yours. They were written down about a 
year and a half ago, and as well on this account as from 
the particular occasion of them (for they were intended 
for an indulgent friend) may claim indulgence for the 
roughness of their form. Since then they have received 
in me a better foundation and a greater precision, which 
will entitle them to approach much nearer to yours. 

That Wilhelm Meister is lost to our Journal, I cannot 
sufficiently regret. Meanwhile I expect from your fertile 
resources and your friendly zeal tor our undertaking an 
equivalent for this loss, whereby then the friends of your 
genius will gain doubly. In the number of the Thalia, 
which I send herewith, you will find some ideas of Kör- 
ner on Declamation, which you will like. All with us 
request your friendly remembrance, and I am with the 
warmest regard, yours, 



# The manuscripts you sent me, as well as the fragment 
on the Sublime,! have read with much pleasure, and am 
thereby more than ever convinced, that not only do the 
same subjects interest us, but that for the most part we 
agree in the manner of viewing them. I see that on all 
leading points we are of one mind ; and as to differences 
in tlie mode of combining and in expression, why these 
grow out of the richness of the object and the correspond- 
ing manifoldness in the subjects.* I wäll now request you 

* Object and Stchject refer mostly, in German criticism, the former 
to the matter treated of, the latter to the person treating it. 



to furnish me with all that you have written on this sub- 
ject, in order that without loss of time we may bring up 
the past. 

And here I have a proposal to make to you. Next week 
the Court goes to Eisenach, and for a fortnight I shall be 
alone and independent, as I have not a prospect of being 
soon again. Will you not, during this period, visit me, 
and lodge with me 1 You would be able to occupy your- 
self in quiet with any kind of work. At convenient hours 
we should talk together, see such friends as were the most 
congenial to us, and would part not without profit. You 
should live entirely after your own fashion, and be as much 
as possible as if you were in your own house. In this 
w^ay I should be enabled to show you what is most valua- 
ble in my literary store, and many threads of connection 
would be joined between us. After the fourteenth you 
will find me free and ready to receive you. 

Until then I will reserve much that I have to say, and 
in the mean time wish you all happiness. 

Have you seen Charts, by Ramdohr 1 With all the 
natural and artificial organs of my individual being I have 
sought to lay hold of the book, but as yet have not found a 
single page that I could get possession of. 

Farewell, and greet your friends from me, 

Weimar, 4th September, 1794. 



Jena, 7th September, 1794. 

With pleasure I accept your kind invitation, but with the 
earnest request, that in no particular of your household 
arrangements will you make any change with reference to 
me : for, alas ! my spasms oblige me commonly to devote 



the whole morning to sleep, because they let me have no 
rest at night, and, indeed, I am never well enough to be 
able in a whole day to count upon a fixed hour. I must, 
therefore, beg, that I may be in your house as one who is 
not to be cared for, so that by being thus left to myself, I 
may escape the embarrassment of making any one else 
dependant upon my state of health. The arrangement 
which would make any other man comfortable, is my worst 
enemy, for the being obliged to do a certain thing at a 
particular time is sure to render me unfit to do it. 

Pardon these preliminaries, which I must first settle, in 
order to make my staying with you even possible. I will 
request the poor liberty of being permitted to be an invalid 
in your house. 

I was just about to propose to you to pay me a visit 
when I received your invitation. My wife has gone with 
our child to spend three weeks at Rudolstadt, to avoid the 
small pox with which Mr. Humboldt has had his children 
inoculated. I am quite alone, and could lodge you very 
comfortably. Except Humboldt, I seldom see any one, 
and for a long time no metaphysics have crossed my 
^ threshold. 

My proceeding in regard to Ramdohr's Charis was 
singular. On my first looking through it, I was repelled 
by his strange style and horrible philosophy, and I sent 
him heels over head back to the bookseller. A short time 
afterwards on reading some passages of his book on the 
Netherland schools, extracted in a scientific journal, I took 
to him more kindly, and read his Charis again, and not 
without profit. His general views on sensibility, taste, 
and beauty, are most unsatisfactory ; but the practical 
portion of his book, where he speaks of the characteristics 



of the different arts and assigns to each its sphere and 
boundaries, I have found very useful. You see here that 
he is in his element, and that from having lived long in the 
midst of works of Art, he has acquired a more than com- 
mon skill in judging of them. In this department speaks 
the man of information, who, if he has not a paramount 
voice, has, at least, a concurrent one. But here he cannot 
have for you the value he necessarily has for me, because 
you already possess the experience upon which his merit 
rests, and you therefore find nothing new in him. In that 
which you seek he is particularly faulty, and that wherein 
he is successful you do not need. I shall be surprised if 
the Kanteans let him pass quietly, and if the opponents of 
this philosophy do not endeavor to strengthen their side 
through him. 

As you have read the fragment on the Sublime, I here- 
with send you the beginning, in which you w^ll perhaps 
find a few ideas that decide something as to the aesthetic 
expression of passion. Several earlier essays by me on 
aesthetic subjects are not sufficiently satisfactory to myself 
for me to lay them before you, and some later ones that 
are yet unprinted I will bring with me. Perhaps you 
would like to see a review by me of Matthison's Poems in 
the General Literary Gazette, which will be published this 
week. On account of the anarchy which still continues in 
poetical criticism, and the entire absence of objective laws 
of taste, the critic always finds himself embarrassed, when 
he wishes to support his assertions with reasons ; for there 
are no established laws to which he can appeal. If he 
wishes to deal fairly, he must either be silent altogether, 
or he must (and that is not always agreeable) be both 
legislator and judge. In this review I have adopted the 



latter course, and with what right or success, I should 
prefer to hear from you. 

I have this moment received the review and send it. 

Fr. Schiller. 


Take my thanks for your consent to come. You will 
have perfect liberty to live after your own manner. Be 
good enough to advise me of the day you will come, so that 
I may be prepared for you. 

Perhaps Mr. Humboldt will pay us a visit : perhaps I 
shall return with you. But all this we will leave to the 
genius of the day. If you have Charis, bring it with you. 

Some beautiful landscapes, that have just arrived from 
Naples, will aid us in our conversations on this subject. 

Farewell, and commend me to your friends. 

Weimar, September 10, 1794. 


I have just received some copies of the English Iphi- 
genia,* and send you one. 


Jen- A, 12ih September, 1794. 

You have left it to me to fix a day after the 14th. With 
your permission then, I shall be with you on Sunday after- 
noon, as I wish to lose as little as possible of the pleasure 
you have in store for me. Mr. Humboldt, who is much 
gratified by your invitation, will accompany me, in order 
to spend some hours with you. 

* One of Goethe's dramas. 



Ramdohr was here a few days ago, and probably called 
on you too. He tells me that he is now writing a book on 
Love, in which he will prove that pure love never has 
existed anywhere but among the Greeks. He goes pretty 
deep for his ideas on Beauty, for he calls to his aid the 
sexual feeling. 

The English Iphigenia gave me much pleasure. As far 
as I can judge, this foreign dress fits it very well, and one 
is forcibly reminded of the affinity between the two lan- 

Frederick Jacobi joins us in the Horm* which will be 
a very acceptable enlargement of our circle. He is to me 
a very interesting man, although I must acknowledge that 
I don't take to his works. 

Charis cannot be procured here anywhere, but I will 
bring with me a treatise of Maimon on the Beautiful, which 
is worth reading. 

My wife charges me with many friendly assurances for 
you. I am about to send her the English Iphigenia, which 
will give her much pleasure. 



Jena, 29th September, 1794. 

I AM back here again, but my mind is still in Weimar. 
It will take me some time to unfold all the ideas which you 
have set in motion in me ; but no one of them I hope will 
be lost. It was my purpose to devote these last fourteen 
days to the imbibing of as much from you as my recep- 
tivity would permit : time will now show, whether this 
seed will come up in me. 

* The Journal about to be established. 



On my return, I found a letter from our publisher, who 
is full of zeal and resoluteness to begin the great work 
soon. I had purposely represented to him once more all 
the difficulties and all the possible dangers of this under- 
taking, in order to give him the opportunity of taking the 
step with the greatest deliberation. But after weighing 
all circumstances, ho thinks that no undertaking could be 
more promising : and he has made a precise estimate of 
his resources. We can count upon his untiring activity 
in circulating the Journal, as well as on his punctuality in 

He expresses the wish, that in our committee we would 
give a consulting voice to his partner, a young man of 
education. I cannot take it amiss of him that he desires 
to have a good friend in the body which is to have a hold 
on his purse-strings. In addition to this, the young man, 
whose name is Zahn, belongs to the Commercial Company 
at Calv. I think, therefore, that we shall do well to inter- 
est him as much as possible in our undertaking, and that he 
may be allowed a consulting voice in our committee. As 
this is an affair that belongs to our official acts, I request 
that you will sign the enclosed paper, if you approve 
of its contents. 

As I wish to write to Mr. Arends in a few days, [ beg 
you to be good enough to give me his address. You 
spoke recently of engaging Mr. Hirt, in Rome, to keep 
you informed of what is doing in the Arts in Italy. This 
would certainly be very useful, and I hope you will not 
omit it. 

The air is so oppressive to-day, that I am obliged to 
limit myself to editorial matters. I learn that Ramdohr 
has complained here of your reception of him in Dresden. 



He is here so esteemed as a connoisseur, tliatK. took him 
to the joiner's to have the benefit of his judgment about a 
very common bureau he is having made. 



That the editors of the Horen receive Mr. Zahn of 
Tübingen, into their association, and allow him a consult- 
ative voice in the affairs which regard this monthly jour- 
nal, seems to me perfectly suitable to the circumstances. 
It is to be understood, that this connection lasts only so 
long as Mr. Cotta is the publisher. 

Weimar, 1st October, 1794. 



We know now, my excellent friend, from our fort- 
night's conference, that as to principles we agree, and 
that the circles of our feelings, thoughts, and activity, 
partly coincide, partly touch ; from this, much good will 
follow to both. For the Horen, I have continued to think, 
and begun to work ; I am planning vehicles and masks, 
through which and under which we may administer a 
variety of things to the public. I have no objection to 
make against the admission of Mr. Zahn ; but as I would 
wish that you alone sign all documents, I give my assent 
on a separate sheet. 

Farewell, and do not entirely forget my dietetic advice. 
I hope soon to be able to send you something, and expect 
that you will suggest to me subjects to write about. 

Weimar, 1st October, 1794. 




Mr. Arends will not fail to get your letter if you put 
architect in the address : he is well known in Hamburg. 

I shall not forget Hirt and Albrecht. Thank Mr. Hum- 
boldt for the review of Woldemar ; I have just been read- 
ing it with the greatest interest. 


As Venice Preserved will not be played next Saturday, 
and not till Tuesday, and is not either of importance 
enough to bring you hither, I propose to you, that you and 
your dear wife come over on Saturday the 18th, when we 
shall give Don Carlos. Although you would not be much 
edified by the representation, it would be an excellent 
opportunity for testing the talents of our actors for the 
object we spoke of. Farewell, and think of me. 

Weimar, 8th October, 1794. 



Jena, 8th October, 1794. 

Forgive the long delay of this letter, which is the open- 
ing of our correspondence.* Several pieces of urgent 
business for the Literary Gazette and the Thalia, have 
obliged me to defer it, against my wish and will. 

It will now depend on you, whether the path into which 
I here strike, shall be pursued further. As, in the sequel, 
reference will probably be so often made to this point, I 

* From this passage, and a similar one in the next letter of 
Goethe, it appears that this letter contained another in the form of 
an essay on the Beautiful, to which Goethe replied. These letters 
are not published in their Correspondence. 



have thought it necessary that at the outset we should dis- 
tinctly unfold our ideas on the nature of the Beautiful. 
# * * * * 

I am very anxious to see your novel which you were to 
have given me. Schutz has proposed to me to review 
this part of it, and I am well inclined to gratify him, par- 
ticularly as I do not wish to see it go into other hands. 

The Humboldts and my wife send you friendly greet- 
ings, and I am near to you through all by which I feel and 



You would probably not have been dissatisfied with the 
representation of Don Carlos, if we had had the pleasure 
of seeing you here. Do not let the Knights of Malta* out 
of your mind. 

At the end of this week I shall send you the Elegies ; 
they are partly copied, only some refractory lines here and 
there detain me. 

You will also receive some sheets in answer to your 
first letter : I have written them already, but must rewrite 
some parts. It seems to me quite strange to find myself 

Remember me in your circle. Be kind enough to give 
a quarter of an hour to Mr. Gerning who will be the 
bearer of this. 

Weimar, 16th October, 1794. 


A drama that Schiller was planning. 




Jena, 17th October, 1794. 

If not prevented by my health, which the bad weather 
has again deranged, I will go over to-morrow, with my 
wife, to Weimar. But do not expect me with certainty. 

I am now putting the last hand to my letters to the Pr. 
of Aug., because 1 design the beginning of them for the 
first number of the Haren. I hope to be able to send them 
to you next Tuesday. My first work will then be to con- 
tinue the subject we have lately taken in hand. We are 
looking forward to the arrival of the Elegies and the Epis- 
tle with great eagerness. 

All here greet you kindly. 



Jena, 20th October, 1794. 

Here then I make the dance of the Horcn begin, and 
send you the portion of my letter to the Pr. that is in- 
tended for the first number. Doubtless your and my con- 
tributions will fill the whole number, all to a few sheets. 
Perhaps we can get from Herder a short piece for the 
first number : this I should be much pleased at. For the 
rest, although there is no variety of authors, there is 
variety of matter in the first number, as you will perceive. 

My debut in the Horen is at least no attempt to win the 
public by flattering. I could not, however, handle it more 
gently, and I am sure that in this particular you will be 
of my mind. I hope that yon may be so too in the 
others, for I must acknowledge, that my real, earnest 
opinion, is expressed in these letters. I have never be- 
fore written a line about political bemoaninga, and I have 



said what I have in these letters, merely that I may never 
hereafter say anything more of them ; but I believe that 
the confession I make therein is not entirely superfluous. 
DifTerent as are the instruments with which you and I 
take hold of the world, and different as are the offensive 
and defensive weapons that we carry, I yet think that we 
aim at one and the same point. You will find in these 
letters a portrait of yourself, under which I should have 
liked to write your name, if I did not hate to forestall the 
feelings of thinking readers. None, whose judgment can 
be of value to you, will mistake it, for I know that I have 
seized it well and drawn it faithfully. 

I should like, if you have time, that you read the manu- 
script soon, and then send it to Herder, whom I will 
advise thereof; for, according to our rules, it must pass 
through several hands before it can be despatched, and 
we wish soon to make arrangements for the printing of 
the Horen. 

In regard to the Almanac of the Muses, of which I 
lately spoke to you in W., I have made a formal contract 
with the Jew bookseller, and it will appear next Michael- 
mas. On your goftdness, which will not leave me in the 
lurch, I count much in this. In a business point of view, 
this undertaking will be a trifling increase of load, but for 
my pecuniary aims on that very account the happier, 
because I can continue it in weak health, and thereby 
secure my independence. 

With much impatience I anticipate what your last letter 
promises me. We all beg to be remembered by you. 





With great pleasure, I have read the manuscript you 
sent me : I took it in at one draught. As a deUcious 
drink, suitable to our nature, slips down the throat grate- 
fully, and at once, while only on the tongue, gives 
evidence of its wholesome operation by the fine tone it 
imparts to the nervous system, thus w^ere these letters 
agreeable and salutary to me. And how could it be other- 
wise, when I found that which I for a long time have 
thought true, what I either praised or wished to praise, 
set forth in so clear and noble a manner. Meyer, too, is 
delighted with it ; and his keen impartial perception was 
a strong confirmation to me. This agreeable mood was 
near being ruffled by the accompanying note from Herder, 
who would impute onesidedness to us who enjoy this 
mode of exposition. But as one must not be too exacting 
in regard to this world's phenomena, and as there is ever 
a consolation when one errs in the company of tried men, 
while laboring for the profit and not the injury of oneself 
and one's contemporaries, let us cheerfully and undiverted 
thus continue to live and labor, and figure to ourselves our 
being and aims as a whole, that we may give as nearly as 
possible completeness to our patchwork. The letters I 
will retain for a few days, in order to enjoy with Meyer 
the pleasure of reading them again. 

Here are the Elegies. I wish you not to let them out of 
your hands, but read them to those who have to judge of 
their admissibility. After which I beg to have them back 
to revise and perhaps retouch. If you find anything to 
remark upon, pray point it out. 

The Epistle is nearly copied, and will follow soon, with 
several trifles ; then I must make a stop, for the third 



book of the Novel requires my attention. I have not yet 
the proof-sheets of the first ; as soon as they arrive, you 
shall have them. 

As to the Almanac,* I will propose to you to insert in, 
or add to it, a little book of Epigrams. Singly they have 
no value ; but we could, out of some hundreds (many of 
which are not presentable), select a number which have a 
bearing one on the other, and form a whole. You shall 
see the sportive brood all together, in their nest, the next 
time we meet. 

Farewell, and remember me in your circle. 

Weimar, 26th October, 1794. 


Write me what you wish from me next for the Hörem, 
and when you want it. The second epistle will be writ- 
ten in the first favorable mood. 


Jena, 28th October, 1794. 

That you agree with me in my ideas, and are satisfied 
with the manner of setting them forth, delights me not a 
little, and on the route I have entered will serve me as 
most needful encouragement. True, things that are ex- 
pounded by pure reason, or at any rate profess to be so, 
stand firmly enough on internal and objective grounds, 
and carry within themselves the criterion of truth ; but as 
yet there is no such philosophy, and mine is far distant 
from it. After all, the matter rests at last principally on 
the testimony of individual assertion, and needs therefore 
a subjective sanction, which only the concurrence of 
unprejudiced minds can bestow. Meyer's opinion is here 

* The German annuals are so called. 



significant and invaluable to me, and consoles me for the 
opposition of Herder, who it seems can never forgive me 
my Kantean belief. Nor do I expect from the opponents 
of the new Philosophy the toleration that is commonly 
extended to any system of which no better opinion is 
entertained ; for the Kantean Philosophy itself exercises 
none in material points, and has by far too stern a charac- 
ter, for any compromise with it to be possible. But this 
does it honor in my eyes, for it shows that it will not 
permit arbitrary hypothesis. Nor, therefore, is such a 
philosophy to be dismissed with a shaking of the head. 
In the open, clear, accessible field of inquiry, it builds up 
its system, never seeks the shade, and makes no reser- 
vation of private feeling ; but, as it treats its neighbors, 
will it be treated by them, and is to be pardoned if it 
respects nothing but arguments. I am not at all alarmed 
by thinking, that the law of change, before which no 
human nor divine work finds favor, will overthrow the 
form of this Philosophy as well as every other : but this 
fate its foundations will not have to fear ; for, since the 
human race was, it has been silently acknowledged and in 
the general conformed to, and this will continue so long 
as there is reason. 

With the philosophy of our friend Fichte, the case is 
quite different. Already are sturdy opponents stirring in 
his own community, who will shortly proclaim that it all 
resolves itself into a subjective Spinozism. He has in- 
duced one of his old academic friends, one Weisshuhn, to 
remove hither, probably with the design of extending 
through him his own empire. Weisshuhn, however, who, 
from all I hear of him, has a capital philosophic head, 
thinks that he has already made a hole in his system, and 



will write against him. According to oral utterances of 
Fichte, for nothing has been said of this yet in his book, 
the / is creative also through its ideas, and all reality is 
only in the /. To him, the world is only a ball which 
the / has thrown forth, and which it again catches in the 
act of reflexion ! ! Thus 'tis said he has really declared 
his godhead, as we lately expected. 

We are all very thankful to you for the Elegies. There 
is in them a warmth, a tenderness, and a hearty, genuine 
poetic spirit that does one good amidst the productions of 
the present poetic world. They are a spiritual manifes- 
tation of the true poetic genius. Several little traits I 
have been disappointed in not finding, but I understand 
how you were obliged to sacrifice. I am in doubt about 
a few passages, which I will* mark when I send them 

As you call on me to say what more I desire from you 
for the first numbers, I will remind you of your idea to 
work up the story of the honest advocate from Boccaccio. 
I prefer at all times representation to investigation, and 
here the more, because in the three first numbers of the 
Horen we are obliged to philosophize somewhat too much, 
and there is a deficiency in poetic pieces. Were it not 
for this, I would call to your mind the treatise on land- 
scape painting. According to the present arrangements, 
it will be necessary to despatch the third number of the 
Horen by the beginning of January. If now, your elegies 
and the 'first epistle appear in the first number, the second 
epistle and what else you may send this week, in the 
second, and in the third another epistle and your story 
from Boccaccio, each of these numbers will be sure of its 



Your kind offer respecting the epigrams is most advan- 
tageous for the Almanac. We will confer about the 
arrangement of them. Perhaps it may be possible to 
make several sets of them, each set to be independent of 
the others. 

I rejoice to hear that Professor Meyer is again in 
Weimar, and I beg that you will make us acquainted very 
soon. Perhaps he will consent to make an excursion 
hither, and, in order that this may not be entirely fruitless 
for the artist, I have a bust by a German sculptor to show 
him, which, I think I may venture to say, need not fear 
the eye of the genuine connoisseur. Perhaps he will con- 
sent to furnish something this winter for the Horen. 

I shall certainly set to work at the Maltese Knights, as 
soon as I shall have finished a little essay on the Naive, 
and my Letters, of which you have only read the third 
part : but this will take up the rest of the present year. 
For the birthday of the Duchess I cannot therefore pro- 
mise it, but think that I shall have it ready by the end of 
the winter. I speak now as if I were a healthy active 

Keep us in your friendly remembrance : you live in 



Herewith I send you back your Letters with thanks. 
Having read them first as a contemplative man, and there- 
in found much, I may almost say perfect harmony with 
my own mode of thinking, I read them a second time 
with a practical view, and observed narrowly, whether I 
discovered anything that might mislead me as an active 



man ; but there also I found myself only strengthened and 
forwarded : let us therefore with frank confidence rejoice 
in this harmony. 

Here you have my first epistle, with some trifles. I 
am at work on the second. The tale shall be ready by 
the end of the year, and I hope a third epistle. 

The accompanying letter from Maimon, with the trea- 
tise, will interest you. Don't let it go out of your hands. 
Perhaps I shall visit you soon with Meyer. Farewell. 

Weimar, 28th October, 1794. 



To-morrow, by ten o'clock, I hope to arrive at Jena 
with Meyer, and to pass some pleasant days in your neigh- 
borhood. I hope I shall find you well. 

Weimar, 1st November, 1794. 



Jena, 16th November, 1794. 

The unfriendly weather, which shuts up all organs of 
sensation, has, during the past week, unfitted me for all 
that can be called life, and as I come to myself out of this 
mental slumber, I feel as if I had to find you again after a 
long interval. I long for some friendly trace of you. In 
order that there may be something with you that shall 
occasionally make me present to you, I beg you to 
grant the accompanying portraits place in your house, any 
one you choose, except that in which you have buried the 

As you request, I send back the Elegies together with 
the Stolbergs, with my best thanks. The first manuscript 



of the Horen went off the day before yesterday to the 
bookseller. I have written to him that he may expect 
the remainder of the first number in a fortnight. 

The comedy, The Widow, which you recently too^ 
with you, I beg you to send back for a fortnight. It is to 
be printed in the Thalia, with which it will be returned 
to you, if you desire to make use of it. 

I have anxiously expected a manuscript from Meyer 
this week. Will you recall me to his memory. 

Mr. Humboldt will commence his journey to Frankfort 
next Saturday. 



I SEND you the manuscript, and hope that I have hit the 
right quantity and the proper tone. Pray return it to me 
soon, because some corrections are necessary here and 
there in order to give certain passages more light. If I 
can get the second epistle and the first tale ready for the 
second number, we will let them come next, and reserve 
the Elegies for the third ; if not, these must go first. I 
take great pleasure in these short tales, after such a bur- 
den as a pseudo-epic like the Novel* lays on one. 

Unger sends me the end of the first Book, and forgets 
the middle. As soon as the missing six sheets arrive, I 
will send this Prologue. 

Mr. Humboldt came lately to one of our aesthetic-critical 
meetings : I don't know how he liked it. 

I am anxious to hear how you are getting on with your 
labors : still more to read something you have completed. 

*• Wilhelm Meister. 



Of course you receive the proof-sheets of the Monthly- 
Journal,* in order that we may have a sight of its physi- 
ognomy sooner than the public. 

Farewell. I have a mass of things I should like to talk 
over with you. 

Weimar, November 27th, 1794. 



Jena, 29th November, 1794. 

You have surprised me most agreeably with the unex- 
pected quickness with which you have furnished the In- 
troduction to your tales, and I am doubly thankful to you 
for it. According to my judgment, the whole is most 
properly introduced, and particularly is the contested 
point very happily cleared up. Only it is a pity that the 
reader at first sight sees so little, and thence is not in a 
situation to form a judgment of the bearing of what is said 
upon the whole. It would, therefore, have been desirable 
that the first tale could have been given along with the 
introduction. But I would not like to be unreasonable in 
my wishes, and cause you to regard your participation in 
the journal as a burden. I therefore suppress this wish, 
and merely assure you, that if you can gratify it without 
inconvenience to yourself, you will confer on me a great 

According to the estimate I have made (and I have 
counted several pages by the words), the manuscript can- 
not make more than two sheets and a half, so that there 
will still be left one sheet to be filled up. If it cannot be 
done in any other w^ay, I will myself provide for this 
seventh sheet, and briefly give out of the History of the 

The Horcn. 



Netherlands a piece that by itself is interesting, viz. : the 
siege of Antwerp under Philip IL, in which there is much 
that is remarkable. It will cost me little trouble, and this 
end will thereby be gained, that in this, the very first num- 
ber, the historical field will be entered. Of course, this 
expedient will be abandoned the moment there is hope of 
getting a tale from you. That the appearance of the first 
number is delayed a week cannot be avoided. This, how- 
ever, is not so great an evil, and, perhaps, we shall be 
able to make up for it by issuing the second number within 
a week after it. 

As in my address to the public, I shall make profession 
of modesty in judging of political matters, I suggest for 
your consideration, whether a party of the public, and not 
the least numerous, might not take offence at what you put 
in the mouth of the privy counsellor ? Although it is not 
the author who speaks, but an interlocutor, still the weight 
is on his side, and we have to be more guarded against 

what seems than what is. 


The proof-sheets of the Horen will be sent weekly ; I 
doubt whether we may expect the first for a fortnight. 

The foolish mistake of linger is very vexatious, for I 
am waiting for this work with a real longing. But with 
not less eagerness would I read those fragments of your 
Faust that are not yet printed ; for I tell you frankly, that 
to me what I have read of them was the Torso of Her- 
cules. In these scenes, there reign a power and a fulness 
of genius, which reveal the first master — and I should like 
to accompany, as far as possible, the great and bold spirit 
that breathes in them. 

Mr. Humboldt, who sends his best regards to you, is 



still full of the impression which your manner of expound- 
ing Homer made upon him, and has excited in us all such 
a curiosity about it, that the first time you come over, we 
shall not let you rest until you hold a similar sitting with 

With my aesthetic letters I get on slowly, but the sub- 
ject makes this necessary, and I console myself with 
thinking that the edifice will have a good foundation. If 
the little historical labor did not intervene, I could perhaps 
send you another parcel in eight or ten days. 

All with us recommend themselves to your friendly 



I AM very glad that you are in the general not dissatis- 
fied with my Introduction. I will go through it again and 
attend to your suggestions. Your historical piece will 
doubtless be serviceable to the number, which will thereby 
gain in desirable variety. In the second number I hope 
to get the tale ; but I design to follow the example of the 
narrator in the thousand and one nights. I rejoice in 
having the benefit of your remarks as I proceed, and thereby 
to give new life to this performance. The same advan- 
tage I hope for the novel. Let me not wait long for the 
continuation of your letters. 

I cannot now send you anything of Faust ; I cannot 
venture to untie the package in which he is bound up. I 
could not copy without working to finish it, and that I do 
not feel in a mood for. If anything can make ilie do it 
hereafter, it will certainly be your sympathy and co-opera- 




That Mr. Humboldt liked our Homeric discussion is 
very satisfactory to me, for I undertook it with some anxi- 
ety. A pleasure enjoyed in common with others has 
great charms ; but it is so often marred by diversity among 
the partakers. Thus far a good genius has ever watched 
over our hours. Suppose we read some books together : 
this would afford us a rich enjoyment. 

Farewell, and let me not be far from you and yours. 

Weimar, 2d December, 1794. 



At last here is the first book of Wilhelm Meister. Un- 
fortunately you will only see the first two books after the 
mould has given them a fixed form : nevertheless, give 
me your opinion frankly — tell me what is wished and 
expected. The following books you will see while yet in 
the pliant manuscript, and you will not withhold from me 
your friendly counsel. 

Cotta is probably right in wishing to put the names to 
the articles in the Journal ; he knows the public, which 
looks more to the stamp than the substance. I therefore 
leave it entirely to the other co-laborers to determine 
respecting their contributions ; but as to mine, I must 
request that they all appear anonymously. Only in this 
way, consistently with my other relations, can I take part 
in your journal with freedom and spirit. 

If you find misprints or anything else to remark upon in 
the novel, hav^e the goodness to mark them with a pencil. 

* The intervening letters from twenty-seven to thirty-one, relate 
to the contents of the Journal and arrangements with the publisher. 



I am glad that I shall soon have something more from 
you to read, and hope, after New Year, to see you again 
for a short time. 

Meyer greets you, and I beg to be remembered by you. 

Weimar, 6th December, 1794. 



Jena, 9th December, 1794. 

With hearty delight have I read and devoured the first 
book of Wilhelm Meister, and owe to it an enjoyment such 
as I have not had for a long time, and never but through 
you. I should really be vexed if I could ascribe the mistrust 
with which you speak of this admirable product of your 
genius, to any other cause than the vastness of the requi- 
sitions which your mind will always make of itself. For 
I find in it nothing that does not harmonize perfectly with 
the beautiful whole. Do not expect to-day a more detailed 
opinion from me. The journal and its announcement, 
together with to-day being post-day, distract me too much 
to permit me to gather up my mind for such a purpose. If 
I may keep the sheets here some days longer, I will take 
more time to it, and try if I can divine something of the 
course of the story and the development of the charac- 
ters. Mr. Humboldt has had a high pleasure in it, and like 
me, finds your genius in all its vigorous youth, calm 
power, and creative fullness. No doubt this impression 
will be general. The connexion between its parts is so 
simple and beautiful, and so much is efl!ected with little. 
I acknowledge I at first feared, that on account of the long 
interval that must have elapsed between the first writing 
of it and the giving to it the last finish, a little inequality 



might be visible. But of this there is no trace. The bold 
poetic passages which flash up from the calm current of 
the whole, have an excellent effect ; they elevate and fill 
the soul. Of the beautiful delineation of character I will 
to-day say nothing ; nor of the living graphic naturalness 
of all the descriptions, and which, however, cannot be 
denied to any of your productions. Of the truth of the pic- 
ture of a theatrical economy and theatrical tone, I am very 
competent to judge, being better acquainted with both than 
I have cause to desire. The apology for commerce is 
noble and in a grand spirit. But that by the side of this 
you could still maintain with a kind of triumph the disposi- 
tion (to poetry) of the hero, is certainly not the least of the 
victories which form gains over substance. But I must 
not go deeper into the subject, as I could not just now do 
justice to it. 

I have put an interdict upon Gotta in regard to the names 
of all of us : the advertisement I have to my great relief 
finished to-day, and it is to be appended to the Intelligence 
sheet of the Literary Gazette. Your promise to come over 
here after Ghristmas, gives me much comfort, and makes 
me look towards my enemy, the winter, with somewhat of 

I have not yet been able to learn anything of the story 
relating to Mademoiselle Glairon. My wife recollects to 
have heard that in Bayreuth, on the opening of an old 
building, the old Margraves appeared and prophesied. X., 
who generally knows something de rebus omnibus et qui- 
busdam aliis, could give me no information about it. 

All here commend themselves to you and rejoice at your 
promised visit. 





You have given me much pleasure by your testimony 
in favor of the first book of my novel. After the singular 
fate this work has had, it would be not at all wonderful if 
my head had got confused in regard to it. I shall adhere 
strictly to my plan, and shall rejoice if it conducts me out 
of this labyrinth. 

Keep the first book as long as you please : the second 
you will receive soon, and you will read the third in manu- 
script. Thus you will have more points of view from 
which to form a judgment. I hope that your enjoyment 
may not diminish, but increase with the next books. As 
I have now your voice and that of Mr. Humboldt, I will 
work on the more assiduously. 

The withholding of the names, which should certainly 
be mentioned in the advertisement, will add to the interest 
of the Journal : only the articles must be good. 

In regard to the Clairon story I am now satisfied, and 
would rather that nothing more be said of it until we pro- 
duce it. 

Farewell. I hope that I shall have the pleasure of be- 
ginning the new year with you. 

Weimar, 10th December, 1794. 



Jena, 22d December, 1794. 

Here at last you have a sight of the Horen, which I 
hope may please you. The print is somewhat close, 
whereby the public gains more than we do. But hereafter 
we shall be able to change that, particularly in the poetic 
pieces, and spread ourselves over a larger surface. At 



first Starting I do not dislike that the long articles appa- 
rently go together. I shall also provide that Cotta in some 
way remunerate those of us who contribute much, and to 
whom, therefore, the closeness of the print is a matter of 
some importance. 

I hope that you will find no misprints : I at least have 
found none. The type and form of the book give to it a 
solid and durable look, and distinguish it advantageously 
from the mass of journals. The paper is stout, and seems 
to be prepared to last long. 

Cotta is urgent for manuscript for the second number ; 
I therefore call on you for the second Epistle. 

I beg you will send me back those sheets, because 
Schlitz, who is now going to review the first number, 
wishes to see it, sheet by sheet. 1 have also requested a 
proof of the cover, and shall receive it in eight days. 
Heartily do I rejoice at your promised visit. Madame de 
Kalb has been here some days. 



The sheets will be sent back immediately. Both paper 
and print look well, particularly the prose. Through the 
mixture of single and double lines the Hexameters lose 
rhythm to the eye. 

Here is the second Epistle. You shall have the third 
in time to open the third number with it. 

I will now set to work at the Ghost-story. I shall get 
through a good deal before the end of the year, in order 
to be able to greet you with the more satisfaction in the 



Make Cotta send back the manuscripts : this is advisa- 
ble on several accounts. 

Farewell, and greet for me Madame de K., who unfor- 
tunately passed by me this time at a distance. 

Weimar, 23d December, 1794. 



On account of old Obereit, I write you a few words to- 
day. He seems to be in great want ; I have twenty rix 
dollars for him, which I will send you on Saturday. Will 
you in the meanwhile advance him something ? and keep 
what I shall send, and give it to him part at a time, for he 
will never learn how to handle this tool. Farewell ; my 
third book is ready, and everything seems to promise that 
I shall be in fine spirits when I see you after New Year. 

Weimar, 25th December, 1794. 



Jena, 2d January, 1795. 

My best wishes for the New Year, and hearty thanks 
to you for the past, which, through your friendship, is 
notable and memorable to me above all others. 

I have closed it in much diligence, and, in order to have 
something finished when you come, have taxed myself 
stoutly during the last few days. I have just got to the 
end of my work, and it can be laid before you when you 

The epistle, for which I thank you, is still in my hands ; 
for, as the piece which is to come immediately after it 
was not ready, it was useless to send it. There is the 



less urgency, too, because more manuscript was re quired 
for the first number, as the treatise of Fichte did not suf- 
fice, and thence the appearance of this number is delayed 
a fortnight. 

Professor Meyer will pardon me that I have sent off a 
part of his treatise without his permission. It was not 
possible to submit it to him again after my revision, be- 
cause I was obliged to despatch it on the same day. I 
think, however, that 1 can safely assure him, that he will 
have no cause of dissatisfaction, because the changes I 
made related exclusively to the outward form. This trea- 
tise has given me great pleasure, and will be most valua- 
ble matter for the Horen. It is so rare that a man like 
Meyer has the opportunity to study art in Italy, or that 
one Avho has this opportunity turns out to be a Meyer. 

I have never read the Klopstock ode of which you 
write, and if it can be obtained, do bring it with you. 
The title leads one to expect a production such as it is. 

I rejoice exceedingly to hear of the continuation of 
Meister, which I hope you will also bring with you, and I 
am just now in a state to enjoy it highly. 

I wish that you could besides let us hear some scenes 
from Faust. Madame de Kalb, who knew something of 
it, has lately wrought up my curiosity about it, and I 
don't know that anything in the whole poetic world could 
give me more pleasure. 

Your commission respecting Obereit shall be attended 
to. For the present he has enough to live on, having 
received some money from Meiningen. A part of the 
four louis-d'ors will have to be laid out in clothing for 
him, particularly as thereby he will be enabled to frequent 
the tables of his friends, from which hitherto his philo- 
sophic cynicism has excluded him. 



I hope in a few days either to see you or to learn on 
what day you will come. All here beg to be remembered 
by you. 



Much happiness for the New Year ! Let us spend this 
one as we concluded the last — in reciprocal participation 
in what we love and work at. If those of the same mind 
don't cling to one another, what is to become of society 
and sociability ! I rejoice in the hope that co-operation 
and confidence will ever increase between us. Here is 
the first volume of the Novel. The second copy is for 
Humboldt. May the second book give you as much plea- 
sure as the first. The third I will bring with me in manu- 

I hope to have the Ghost-story ready in good time. 

I am full of curiosity about your new work. Meyer 
greets you. We shall probably come on Saturday, the 
11th. In the interim you will hear from me again. 

Weimar, 3d January, 1795. 



Here you have the third book, to which I wish a good 

Saturday you will receive my little tale for the Horen ; 
I hope that I may have approved myself not entirely un- 
worthy of my great predecessor in describing forebodings 
and visions. 

I shall see you Sunday afternoon. For the evening I 
have engaged myself with Loder to the club. 



Meyer will come with me. I am delighted to hear of 
your new work, and am thinking constantly what course 
you have followed in it ; but I shall probably not be able 
to hit upon it. 

Farewell, and commend me to your friends. 

Weimar, 7th January, 1795. 



Jena, 7ih January, 1795. 

For the unexpected copy of the Novel take my best 
thanks. The feeling which penetrates and possesses me 
with increasing force on reading this work, I cannot bet- 
ter express than by calling it a delicious inward content- 
ment — a feeling of spiritual and bodily heaUh, and I will 
answer for it that this effect will be the same with most 

This healthful operation I ascribe to the calm clearness, 
smoothness and transparence, which leave nothing behind 
to dissatisfy or disturb the mind, exciting it no further 
than is necessary to kindle and keep alive a gladsome 
animation. About individual parts I will say nothing un- 
til I shall have read the third book, which I look for with 

I cannot express to you with what a painful feeling it 
often is that I pass from a production of this kind to the 
philosophical. There, all is so joyous, so alive, so har- 
moniously evolved and so humanly true ; here, all so 
severe, so stiff and abstract, and so unnatural, because all 
nature is only synthesis and all philosophy antithesis. 
True, I may say for myself, that in my speculations I have 
remained as true to nature as is compatible with the idea 
of analysis — perhaps even truer than our Kanteans would 



regard as allowable or possible. Nevertheless, I feel most 
sensibly the infinite distance between Life and Reasoning 
— and in a melancholy moment of this kind cannot help 
regarding as a deficiency in my own nature, what in a 
happier mood I must look on as a quality inherent in the 
thing itself. This much, however, is certain, the poet is 
the only true man, and the best philosopher is only a cari- 
cature in comparison with him. 

I need not assure you, how full of expectation I am to 
learn what you say to my philosophy of the Beautiful. As 
the Beautiful itself is derived from entire human nature, 
so is this my analysis drawn from my entire humanity, and 
I cannot but be deeply concerned to know how this ac- 
cords with yours. 

Your visit here will be to me a source of nourishment 
for soul and heart. Particularly do I long to enjoy in 
common with you certain poetic works. 

You promised me to take an opportunity to let me hear 
your Epigrams, It would be an additional great pleasure 
to me if you could do this on your coming visit, as it is 
uncertain how soon I shall be able to go to Weimar. 

I beg you to give to Meyer my most friendly regards. 
All here rejoice at your and his coming thither, and no 
one more than your most sincere admirer and friend, 


Just as I am about closing I receive the welcome con- 
tinuation of Meister. A thousand thanks for it. 


Nothing has come in the way of our purpose to see 
you to-morrow and to pass some time near you ; I hope to 
find you Avell and cheerful. 



The accompanying manuscript I have not been able to 
look through after it was copied. I shall be very glad if 
my endeavor to rival the great Hennings^meets with your 

Farewell, and greet your wife and friends. 

Weimar, lOth January, 1795. 



Jena, 25th January, 1795. 

Had you remained a day longer with us, we should have 
been able to celebrate together the advent of the Horen. 
They came yesterday, and herewith I send you your num- 
ber of copies, and one for our friend Meyer. There are 
more at your service whenever you want them. I only 
hope that the outward appearance may meet the approba- 
tion of both of you. 

Cotta writes in high spirits. So many orders have al- 
ready been received, that he promises himself a large 
sale : and this from the mouth of a publisher is a credible 

As I am about to send a package to Jacobi, I beg you 

to send me the letter you spoke of to enclose it, as I do 

not like to trouble you with the package. I also wish to 

know whether you design one of your copies for the Duke, 

for if you do, I shall omit to present him with one. 
* * * # # 

All here beg to be kindly remembered by you. 
Entirely yours, 





Thanks for the copies of the Horen ; they have a very- 
neat appearance. One of the small ones I have delivered 
to the Duke in your name, and think it would be well if 
you took the occasion to write him a word. I doubt not 
that the Journal will do well. 

My third book is despatched ; I went through it once 
more, bearing in mind your remarks upon it. 

This week is passing away amidst theatrical troubles ; 
after which I shall go actively to work again at my ap- 
pointed labors. 

I wish you health and spirits lor yours. 

Meyer greets you. Accept once more our thanks for all 
your kindness in Jena. 

Weimar, 27th January, 1795. 



'Jena, 28th January, 1795. 

I AM much obliged to you for your kindness in giving 
the Duke a copy of the Horen in my name. I herewith 
send you another, and as I expect some more from Cotta 
next Saturday, I will send some to you, together with the 
package for Jacobi. 

I wrote to-day to the Duke. What he says to our Jour- 
nal, I shall hear from you. 

I have at last read in manuscript, I.'s famous review of 
the Horen, For our purpose it is very good— much better 
than for our ta^te. The images from Utopia have not yet 
entirely left his imagination ; for he has much to say about 

He deserves praise for having extracted many passages 



from the Epistle. Against me he has some grudge, which 
however he does not let appear, in order to avoid any- 
kind of collision. I shall be glad if he thereby maintains 
in a skilful manner the character of impartiality. 

I wrote to Herder a few days since, and beg you, if yon 
have an opportunity, to sustain the request I have made of 

Since your departure the Muses have not visited me 
very freely, and there must be a change in that respect, if 
I am to do honor to the Centaur of the fourth number. 
The children have had the small-pox, and got through 
them very happily. 



How much I desire that my fourth book may find you 
in good health and mood, and afford you some hours' en- 
tertainment ! May I beg you to make a mark where you 
find anything questionable ? I likewise commend my 
hero and his companions to Mr. Humboldt and the ladies. 

If I do not come on Saturday as I hope to, you will 
hear from me again. 

Weimar, 11th February, 1795. 



You told me the other day that you thought of coming 
over here soon. Although I fear that the return of cold 
weather may prevent you, I will still make you a proposal. 

You could both stop with me ; or, if your wife would 
like to lodge somewhere else, I still wish that you would 
take possession of your old quarters. Follow your own 
mind about it : you will both be heartily welcome. 



Under the influence of the spirit which the recent con- 
versation with you infused into me, I have already worked 
out the plan for the fifth and sixth books. How much 
more profitable it is to be reflected in others than in one- 
self ! 

Are you acquainted with the observations of Kant on 
the feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime of 1771 ? It 
would be a very clever work, if the words Beautiful and 
Sublime were not placed in the title, and occurred less 
frequently in the little book itself. It is full of delightful 
remarks on man, and one sees his principles already 
sprouting. You surely know it. 

Has no intelligence been yet received of the absent 
Mr. Humboldt ?* Commend me to your circle, and con- 
tinue to refresh and elevate me through your love and 

Weimar, 18th February, 1795. 



Jena, 19th February, 1795. 

The wretched weather has again taken away all my 
spirits, and my threshold is once more the boundary of my 
wishes and peregrinations. How gladly will I avail my- 
self of your invitation so soon as I can trust my health a 
little, if it be but for a few hours. I long much to do so, 
and my wife, whose heart is set upon the visit to you, will 
not let me rest until it is carried into efiect. 

I lately gave faithfully back to you the impression 
which Wilhelm Meister made on me, which is, therefore, 
as is natural, your own fire at which you warm yourself. 

* The celebrated traveller. 


Körner wrote me about it a few days since with infinite 
satisfaction, and his judgment is to be depended upon. I 
have never met with a critic who let himself be so little 
diverted by the accessories of a poetical work from the 
main design. He finds in Wilhelm Meister all the power 
of the Sufferings of Werther, only tamed by a manly 
spirit, and purified to the calm grace of a perfect work of 

What you write concerning the little work of Kant, I 
recollect to have experienced on reading it. Of the fun- 
damental principles of the Beautiful nothing is learnt in 
it ; but, as a natural history of the Sublime and Beautiful, 
it contains valuable matter. For so serious a subject, the 
style seemed to me to be somewhat too playful and flow- 
ery ; a singular fault in a Kant, which, however, is easily 
accounted for. 

Herder has presented us with a treatise capitally exe- 
cuted, on a subject most happily chosen, in which the 
current notion of a particular destiny is handled delight- 
fully. Things of this kind are especially suitable for 
our purpose, because there is something of the mystical 
in them, which, through the mode of treating them, may 
be connected with some general truth. 

As we are on the subject of destiny, 1 must tell you, 
that I have within a few days decided something concern- 
ing mine. My countrymen have done me the honor to 
invite me to Tiibingen, where they seem just now to be 
very busy with reforming. But as I have become unfit 
for an academical teacher, I would rather be idle here 
in Jena than anywhere else, where I am very contented, 
and where, if possible, I will live and die. I have, there- 
fore, refused the oflfer, and take to myself no credit for so 



doing, for my inclination alone decided the whole matter, 
so that I was not obliged to call to mind the obligations I 
owe to our excellent Duke, and which I would rather 
owe to him than to any one else. For a living, I think I 
need not have any anxiety, so long as I can hold a pen, 
and so I trust to Heaven, which has never yet deserted 

Mr. Humboldt, of Bayreuth, has not yet come, and has 
not yet written anything certain about his coming. 

Herewith I send you the Weisshuhnian papers of which 
I spoke to you. Please send them back soon. 

We all commend ourselves heartily to your remem- 



How much I rejoice that you will remain in Jena, and 
that your fatherland has not been able to draw you back 
to it. 1 hope that we shall be able to do and perfect 
much together yet. 

I beg that you will send me back the manuscript of 
the fourth book : I will return the Synonyms soon. 
Thus will the dance of time grow ever livelier. Fare- 
well. More soon. 

Weimar, 21st February, 1795. 



Jena, 22d February, 1795. 

According to your request, here is the fourth book of 
Wilhelm Meister. Where I found something to object 
to, 1 have made a mark on the margin, whose meaning 



C O R R E S 1 ' O M) K N C E E E l' V\' E E X 

you will easily find out : and if you do not, there will 
be nothing lost. 

I must make a somewhat more important remark con- 
cerning the present of money made by the Countess to Wil- 
helm, through the hands of the Baron. It appears to me — 
and so it does to Humboldt too — that after the tender rela- 
tions between them, she should not offer him such a present, 
nor he accept it. T sought in the context for something 
that could save her and his delicacy, and think that this 
would be done if this present were given him as a reim- 
bursement for expenses incurred, and were accepted by 
him under this name. Decide yourself. As it now 
stands, the reader hesitates and becomes embarrassed 
how he shall save the hero's delicacy. 

For the rest, I have enjoyed on a second perusal a 
renewed pleasure from the perfect truth of the descrip- 
tions and the excellent criticism on Hamlet. As to the 
latter, I could wish, merely for the sake of the linking 
together of the Avhole, and of variety, which is sustained 
throughout in so high a degree, that it were not set forth 
in one mass, but that, if possible, it could have been inter- 
rupted by some intervening occurrences. On the first 
meeting w^ith Serlo, it is renew^ed too suddenly, and 
immediately afterwards again in the apartment of Aurelia. 
These, however, are trifles which would not occur to the 
reader, if you yourself had not created by all that goes 
before the expectation of the greatest variety. 

Körner, who wrote to me yesterday, has charged me 
to thank you for the high pleasure that Wilhelm Meister 
has given him. 

I must earnestly beg you to bear in mind our third 
number of the Horen. Cotta begs me urgently to send 



him the manuscript earlier, — and says, that the tenth of 
the month must be the latest date on which he must have 
all the copy. It must therefore be sent from this on the 
third. Do you think that by that time you will be ready 
with the Advocate 1 My reminding must by no means 
put you to inconvenience, for you have perfectly free 
choice to give it to either the third or fourth number, as, 
at any rate, for one of those two numbers nothing is to be 
required of you. 

We all commend ourselves warmly to your remem- 
brance, and I beg you to greet Meyer for me. 



Your kind critical concern for my work has animated 

me with new courage to go through once more the fourth 

book. I understood very well your marks, and have 

availed myself of your hints, and hope to remedy the 

other deficiencies, and to improve the whole. But, as I 

must set to work at it immediately, you must excuse me 

for the third number, in return for which the Advocate 

shall make its appearance in all elegance in the fourth. 

I hope soon to visit you, if only for a few hours. 
Though absent, let me not be distant from you. 

Assure Körner that his interest gives me infxnite plea- 
sure. Farewell. 

Weimar, 25th February, 1795. 





Jena, 27th February, 1795. 

If the fine weather which we have here, is enjoyed by 
you, I congratulate you on account of the fourth book of 
Wilhelm Meister. This announcement of Spring has 
quite refreshed me, and diffused on my work a new life 
which it much needed. With all our boasted indepen- 
dence, how dependent we are on the elements, and what is 
our will if nature fails us ! That on which I brooded for 
five weeks, a mild look of the sun has loosed in me in 
three days : true, that probably my previous perseverance 
prepared this development, but still with the warming sun 
it came. 

I obtain more and more command over my materials, 
and discover at every step that I make forwards, how firm 
and secure the ground is on which I have built. An 
objection that should overturn the whole, I have no longer 
any cause to fear, and against single errors in the appli- 
cation, the strong connection of the whole will itself 
secure me. 

The new Horen are ready, and one copy of it has already 
been sent to me by the letter-post. To-morrow I expect 
the package. In this number we have fully corrected the 
fault we committed in the first, for, instead of seven 
sheets, it contains eight and a half. 

According to your promise, we may every day expect 
a visit from you. All are well, and beg to be remembered 
by you. 





Here you have the Synonyms I forgot before. I read 
a short extract from it yesterday to some friends, without 
saying whence it came or whither it was going. They 
praised it highly. 

It will not be amiss, if I often read out in this way from 
our manuscripts beforehand. It will have the effect of 
making a dozen people better disposed towards the Journal, 
and curious about the next number. 

On the happy progress of your work I congratulate 
you. All that we can do is to build up the pile and dry 
it well : it will take fire at the right time, and we our- 
selves will wonder at it. 

I send you a letter from Jacobi ; you will see that he is 
doing well. I am pleased at the interest he takes in 
your letters. His judgment on my first volume* he has 
handed over to you for revision. 

Farewell — I will see you as soon as I can. 

Weimar, 28lh February, 1795. 



Jena, 1st March, 1795. 

Here I send you for the present four copies of the 
Horen, one of which I request you to deliver to the Duke. 
The others will follow. 

The criticism of Jacobi has not at all surprised me ; 
for it is as inevitable that an individual like him should be 
offended by the unsparing truths of your pictures, as it is 
that a mind like yours should give him cause to be so. 

* Of Wilhelm Meister. 



Jacobi is one of those who seek only their own ideas 
in the representations of the Poet, and prize more what 
should he than what is ; the contest therefore begins in 
first principles, and it is utterly impossible that the parties 
should come to an understanding. 

So soon as a man lets me see that there is anything in 
poetical representations that interests him more than in- 
ternal necessity and truth, I give him up. If he could 
show you that the immorality of your pictures does not 
proceed from the nature of the object, but from the man- 
ner in which you treat it, then indeed would you be ac- 
countable, but not because you had sinned against moral 
laws, but against critical. But I should like to see how 
he could show this. 

A visit interrupts me, and I will not detain the package. 



Jena, 8th MarA, 1795. 

My expectation of seeing you last week was disap- 
pointed, but I hope this was owing solely to your zeal in 
keeping at work. But neither to see you nor to hear from 
you is what I cannot now accustom myself to. 

I am very anxious about your present occupation. I 
have heard that you intend to have the third volume of 
Meister printed as early as midsummer. That would be 
sooner than I expected ; but although I should rejoice on 
Meister's account, I should regret that you were thereby 
so long withdrawn from the Horen. 

Of the fate of the second number, I have not yet been 
able to learn anything : perhaps you have heard some- 
thing entertaining about it in Weimar. 



Is our friend Meyer satisfied with his Essay ? I hope 
he may be. Cotta writes me that this piece has pleased 
many, and I doubt not that it will do us honor. 

Here I send you four more numbers of the Horen, 
among which is one for Meyer. Should you, instead of 
copies on writing paper, want one or two on post, be so 
good as to let me know — and send back those on writing 
paper. All send kind remembrances to you. 



Notwithstanding a lively desire to see you and talk 
to you, I could not budge last week. Some play-actors, 
whose parts I wished to decide upon, the bad weather 
and a rheumatism I brought on by taking cold, have suc- 
cessively prevented me, and I do not yet see how and 
when I shall get aw^ay. 

So much let me say, that I have been diligent, that the 
greatest part of the fourth book has been sent off, and that 
the Advocate is fmished. I hope that the manner in 
which I have designed and executed this story may not 
displease you. 

If my novel can appear on its appointed periods, I 
shall be content : a hastening of it is not to be thought of. 
Nothing shall prevent me from taking that part in the 
Horen which you wished. 

If I economize and methodize my time, I shall be able 
to get through a good deal this year. 

Of the second number of the Horen, I have as yet 
heard nothing : but the first stalks about formidably enough 
already in Germany. 

Meyer thanks you for your editing of his ideas ; there 



are a few things that might be put differently, but these 
no one will notice. He is now at work on a representa- 
tion of Perugino, Bellini and Mantegna. 

From the accompanying paper, you see what periodical 
works are hereafter to come into our house. My plan is 
to have the table of contents of each number copied, and 
to annex a short review. In this way, at the expiration 
of half a year, we shall have a general view of what our 
cotemporaries are about. 

If we show vigor and variety, we shall soon be above 
them all, for all other journals carry more ballast than 
merchandize ; and, as it is an object with us to make our 
labor the means of self-improvement, only good can there- 
by arise and be effected. 

Many thanks for the copies you sent of the Horen. 

Jacobi begs you to excuse him that he has not yet sent 

I hope that good weather will soon permit me to ride 
over to you, for I long much for a conversation with you, 
and to see your recent labors. Commend me to your 

Weimar, 11th March, 1795. 



Last week I became animated by a singular impulse, 
which fortunately continues. I felt a strong disposition to 
finish the religious book of my Novel, and as the whole 
rests on the noblest illusions and on the most delicate 
shiftings between the objective and the subjective, it requires 
a more favorable mood and more self-possession than per- 
haps any other part. And yet, such a representation 



would have been impossible, as you will perceive in due 
time, if I had not previously made the studies for it after 
nature. Through this book, which I hope to finish before 
holy-week, an unexpected progress is made in my work, 
inasmuch as it points before and after, and at the same 
time fixes the boundaries, guides and carries forward. 
The Advocate is also written and only needs to be revised ; 
you can therefore have it in good time. 

I hope that nothing will prevent me f]?om coming to you 
in holy-week and remaining with you some weeks : then 
we shall bring about some good. 

I am very anxious to see what you have been doing : 
your first letters we have read again in print with pleasure. 

In the Weimar public the Horen are making a great 
noise ; but I have not yet heard any distinct pro or contra. 
People are very curious about it, and snatch the numbers 
out of one another's hands ; we could not wish more for a 

Mr. Humboldt must have been very diligent : I hope too 
to have some more talk with him about anatomica. I have 
arranged for him some very natural and very interesting 
preparations. Greet him and the ladies for me. The 
Procurator is at my door. Farewell, and love me — it will 
not be on your side alone. 

Weimar, 18th March, 1795. 



Jena, 19th March, 1795. 

About the picture that you have just sketched I am not 
a little curious. It must flow less than any other from 
your individuality, for to me this seems to be the cord 
which in you, and hardly to your misfortune, is struck the 




least often. The more curious am I to learn how you 
shall have mingled this heterogeneous matter with your 
own nature. Religious enthusiasm does and can find 
place only in such minds as, contemplatively idle, sink into 
themselves, and nothing seems to be less your case than 
this. I doubt not for a moment that your representation 
will be true, but that it will be solely through the force of 
your genius, and not through the help of your peculiar 
individual feelings. 

For some time I have neglected my philosophical labors 
in order to hasten something for the fourth number of the 
Horen. The lot fell on the siege of Antwerp, which is 
already very well advanced. The town shall have surren- 
dered when you come. It is only since I have been at 
this labor that I discover how severe my previous one 
was ; for, without being at all negligent, it seems to me 
mere play, and only the quantity of wretched stuff that I 
must read, and which tasks my memory, reminds me that 
I am at work. It gives me too but a meagre enjoyment : 
I hope, however, that it is with me as with cooks, who 
have themselves little appetite, but excite it in others. 

You would do me a great service, if you could send me 
punctually on Monday the long desired Advocate. I 
should not then be obliged to give the first part of my 
piece to the printer before the end was written. Should 
you, however, not be able to do it, I beg you to let me 
know as early as Saturday. I hope for the best. 

I rejoice that you intend to spend Easter with us, and I 
am much in want of a lively excitement from without, from 
a friendly hand. 

Pray greet Meyer warmly for me. I wish that he may 
soon be able to give us something more. The seal for the 
Horen I have not yet received. 



All here beg to be remembered by you, and expect you 
with eagerness. 



P'oR the Advocate^ who here appears, I wish a good recep- 

Have the goodness to send it soon back to me, because 
I wish to go through it several times more for the sake of 
the style. 

I am working everything out of the way that might hin- 
der me from soon enjoying and instructing myself by your 

Wkimau, 19lh March, 17'J5. 



Jena, 20th March, 1795. 

I THIS morning received your package, which agreea- 
bly surprised me in every respect. One reads the narra- 
tive with uncommon interest : what particularly pleased 
me was the denouement. I acknowledge that I expected 
such a one, and could not have been satisfied, if you had 
not in this departed from the original. If I recollect right, 
in Boccaccio it is only the timely return of the old man 
that decides the success of the cure. 

If you could send me back the manuscript early on 
Monday you would much oblige me. You will find little 
more to do to it. 





I WILL send you the manuscript to-morrow evening by 
the horse-post. 

On Monday the end of the fourth book will be despatch- 
ed to Unger. 

Next week I hope to get through all I have yet to do, 
be free, and go over to see you. 

I wish success to the taking of Antwerp : it will have a 
good effect in the Horen. 

Commend me to your friends. Meyer greets you : he 
is very diligent with various things. I hope that the slow- 
coming Spring may have a good influence on you, and that 
between this and the anniversary of our acquaintance we 
shall have brought about a good deal together. 

Weimar, 21st March, 1795. 



Jena, 25th March, 1795. 

I RECEIVED to-day another letter, in which the old pro- 
posal from Tiibingen is renewed, with the addition that I 
shall be exempted from all public duties, and shall have 
full liberty to exercise influence on the students in what 
way I prefer, &:c. Now, although I have not changed 
my first determination, and shall not easily change it, 
some very serious reflections in regard to the future 
have, on this occasion, forced themselves on me, 
which convince me of the necessity of securing to 
myself a certainty, in case increasing ill-health should 
arrest my literary labors. I have written on the sub- 
ject to Counsellor Voigt, and begged him to obtain from 
the Duke an assurance, that in such an extremity my pay 



should be doubled. Should this be secured to me, I hope 
to avail myself of it as late as possible or never ; but I 
should then be without anxiety about the future, and that 
is all that I can require. 

As you might hear the matter spoken of, and might not 
know at first what to make of it, I thought I would explain 
it to you in a few words. We shall anxiously look for 
you next Sunday. 


LXIII. (a) 

Notwithstanding I had some idle hours, I could not 
yesterday bring myself to visit you once more and take 
formal leave of you. I left Jena very unwillingly, and 
thank you again heartily for what you imparted to me and 
shared with me. Here first of all are the Elegies, which T 
beg to have back again as soon as possible : they shall then, 
after being divided into the proper number of lines, be 

For the Calendar I have found something, particularly 
for the Messrs. X. Y. Z., which I will send soon with the 
other things. Remind me often of what you want, so that 
my good will may show itself in deed. 

Farewell, and greet your family and friends. 

Weimar, 3d May, 1795. 



Jena, 4th May, 1795. 

I have' this moment received the Elegies with your 
friendly lines. I have missed you every evening since 
your departure ; one gets so easily accustomed to good. 
My health is slowly improving. 



I wait with impatience for what you intend to send me 
for the Almanac. Until I get it I cannot make an esti- 
mate of my poetical change for this little work. 

I will immediately take the Elegies in hand, and hope to 
send them back to you on Friday. 

Huber writes me that he has an inclination to translate 
your Meister into French. Shall I endeavor to encourage 
him to do it, or dissuade him from it ? 

You may depend upon my aiding your memory. 

My wife commends herself to your friendly remem- 
brance. Greet Meyer for me. 



Weimar, 12th March, 1795. 

The package with the Elegies found me in an elegiac 
state according to the common meaning — that is, in a very 
wretched one. After the fine life in Jena, where in addi- 
tion to so much nourishment for the soul I enjoyed the 
warm free air, the cpld weather here has affected me most 
unfavorably ; and exposure to a draught of air for several 
hours, gave me a catarrh-fever, which produced a violent 
pain in the right half of my head and disabled the left. I 
am now so far recovered that I can, without pain, go to 
work in my room, to bring up arrears. 

As to the Elegies, we shall be obliged to leave out en- 
tirely the second and sixteenth ; for their mutilated appear- 
ance will strike every one strangely, unless something 
were substituted for the objectionable passages, to do 
which I feel myself utterly unfit. They will have to be 
printed one after the other just as they come ; for to make 
each one begin in a new page is not practicable, count and 
calculate as I will. With the number of lines in our page, 



very unsightly spaces would occur more than once. But 
this I will leave to you, and will in a few days send the 
manuscript. The second volume of the Novel is delayed 
somewhere on the road. I ought to have had it long 
since, and wished herewith to send it to you. I am now 
on the fifth book, and hope by Whitsuntide to have little 
left unfinished. 

Meyer* is very diligent. He has heretofore done capi- 
tal things ; and it seems to me that he improves every 
day in thought and execution. 

Have the goodness to let me soon hear from you of your 
health, and whether anything new has occurred. Jacobi 
has again delayed his promise through Fritz von Stein. 

14th May, 1795. 

This letter which has lain by me for some days, I will 
at least not keep back from to-day's post. 

Have you seen thu treatise on style in the plastic arts in 
the April number of the Mercury ? That on which we 
are all agreed is very well said ; but, that the writer 
should assert, that genius, which exists in the philosopher 
prior to all experience, does not pull him and warn him 
when with imperfect experience he sits down to prostitute 
himself. Truly, there are in this essay passages that would 
not be unworthy of Rochow. 

Let me hear soon how you are. 


* This gentleman is the author ot an excellent history of the 
fine arts with engraved illustrations. 




Jena, 15th May, 1795. 

I ONLY heard the day before yesterday that you were 
unwell. It must fall very hard on one who is so little ac- 
customed as you are to ill health. That the present 
weather has also not been favorable to me, is so much a 
matter of course that I need not speak of it. 

I must say, that I am very unwilling to lose the whole 
two Elegies. I had thought that even their visible incom- 
pleteness would not have injured them in the estimation of 
the reader, because it were so natural to attribute it to a 
designed modesty. You need not, however, much regret 
this sacrifice, which the bashfulness required in a journal 
causes, as in a few years, when you collect the Elegies 
together, you can restore all that is now stricken out. I 
am anxious to have them, or at least one sheet of them, 
early on Monday, in order to send them off. I hope at 
least soon to finish my treatise, if no particular obstruction 

Cotta is tolerably well satisfied with the Fair. It is true, 
that many of the copies which he sent on commission 
have been returned, but on the other hand as many have 
been ordered, so that upon the whole the estimate does 
not suffer by it. Only he begs urgently for greater variety 
in the articles. Many complain of the abstract subjects, 
many too are dissatisfied with your discourses, because, as 
they express themselves, they cannot yet discover whither 
they tend. You see, our German guests do not belie 
themselves ; they must always know what they are eating 
in order to enjoy the taste of a thing. 

I had a conversation recently with Humboldt about it ; 
it is utterly impossible at the present time to obtain gene- 



ral success in Germany with any production, be it ever so 
good or ever so bad. The pubUc no longer has the unity 
of taste of childhood, and still less the unity of a 
finished culture. It is in the middle, between the 
two, and that is a glorious time for bad writers, but 
therefore the worse for such as do not wish merely to 
make money. 

I am now very curious to hear what is thought of your 
Meister — that is, what the public spokesmen say ; for 
that the public is divided about it, follows as a matter of 

Of news here I have none to tell ; for with the depart- 
ure of friend Fichte, the richest source of absurdities is 
dried up. Friend Woltmann has sent into the world 
another of his unfortunate progeny, and in a very pre- 
sumptuous tone. It is a printed plan of his historical 
lectures — a warning bill of fare, that must frighten away 
even the most hungry customer. 

You do not know that Schütz has been ill and is better. 

Your contributions to the Almanac I expect with great 
eagerness. Herder, too, will do something for it. 

Reichardt has offered himself through Hufeland as a 
contributor to the Horen. 

Have you read Voss's Louise, which is now out 1 I can 
send it to you. I will get the article in the German 

I wish Meyer success in his work. All here greet you 


P. S. Cotta sends me only thirteen copies of the 
Horen. T think that I have to send you three of them. 


C O R R E S P O X D E N" C E B E T Vv' E E N 


Before my package is sent off I receiN-^e yours, and will 
add a few words. 

A part of the Elegies will be despatched to-morrow 
evening by the horse-post. I am very anxious that no 
accident may interrupt your treatise. For the seventh 
number I can promise you nearly two sheets. 

Let us oidy proceed on our way steadfastly ; we know 
what we can do and whom we have before us. It is now 
twenty years that I am acquainted inwardly and outwardly 
with the buffoonery of authorship : it must only be played 
on after the same fashion — there's nothing else to be 

R. is not to be rejected, but you will be obliged to keep 
his importunity in check. 

I have not yet seen Louise : you will do me a favor by 
sending it. I send you a volume of Herder's Terpsichore, 
which I beg you to return soon, and which will please 
you much. 

My illness is pretty well over. I had already made 
arrangements to visit you at least for half a day ; but now 
I must put it off for some time. The rehearsals of Clau- 
dine will keep me here the next fortnight. 

Farewell and greet our friends. 

In the Moniteur it is set down, that Germany is chiefly 
celebrated for Philosophy, and that one Mr. Kanl and his 
pupil Mr. Fichte, are the men that set up lights for the 

Weimar, ICtli May, 1795. 





Here you have, at last, my dear friend, the second 
volume of Wilhelm. I wish him on his public appearance 
the continuance of your favor. I am trying now to get the 
fifth book in order, and as the sixth is already finished, 
I hope before the end of this month to have worked my- 
self free for the Summer. I hope soon to hear how you 
are getting on. 

The accompanying copies 1 beg you to distribute ac- 
cording to the subscription. Farewell. 

Weimar, 16th May, 1705. 



Jena, 21st May, 1795. 

The bearer of this, Mr. Michaelis of Strelitz, is the pub- 
lisher of my Almanac of the Muses. If you can give him 
a few moments, will you have the goodness to consult 
with him and our friend Meyer, whether among the con- 
tributions which you design for the Almanac (including the 
Epigrams) there be not something suitable for vignettes, 
which perhaps Meyer would sketch ? Custom requires 
this kind of decoration, and here I have no material for it. 
If you have among your small poems, ballads, or something 
of the same nature, they would be the best for the purpose. 
The Almanac is to be printed by Unger, and is to be very 

I sent you, through Mr. Gerning, a request to let me 
know when Claudine will be played, in order if possible 
to be present at the representation, or to give my wife the 
pleasure of being. But she will probably take the measles, 
and so the whole little plan will be defeated. 



I desire much to see you here soon again. 

Michaelis will tell you that in his region there is brisk 
demand for your Meister. May this letter find you in the 
best health. 



Here is half of the fifth book : it makes an era in the 
Novel — therefore I send it. I w4sh it a good reception. 
My illness has changed my plan, and obliged me to advance 
with this work. Pardon all mistakes, and don't forget the 
lead pencil. When you and Humboldt shall have read it, 
I beg to have it back. As I am very impatient under 
bodily suffering, I shall go to Carlsbad, which formerly 
freed me for a long time from attacks like this. Farewell. 
You shall have something soon for the Almanac, also for 
the Horen. I am curious to know what you will think of 
an idea I have, to enlarge the Jurisdiction of the Horen, 
and of periodical works generally. This is accompanied 
by a letter from a co-laborer. 

May you be in health and not obstructed in your labors. 
How is Carl? 

Weimar, 11 th June, 1795. 



Jena, 12th June, 1795. 

That you have been again unwell I have heard with 
heartfelt regret from Mr. Humboldt ; and that, from such a 
cause, you are about to leave us for some time, I deplore 
still more. You were in so animated and happy an activity, 
and medicinal water is a bad Hippocrene, at least so long 



as it is drunk. Meanwhile, may you only soon be able io 
set off, in order that you may return to us the sooner. 

Since four or five days my fever has left me, and I am 
now quite satisfied with my health. Would that I were 
so with my diligence ! But the passing from one kind of 
labor to another always goes hard with me, and now the 
more so, as I am to spring from metaphysics to poetry. 
I have built a bridge as well as I could and made a begin- 
ning with a rhymed epistle, at the top of which is written 
Poetry of Life, and which, therefore, as you see, borders 
on the subject I have left. Could you come, and blow 
into me your spirit only for six weeks, and only so much 
of it as I can take in, I should be rid of the difficulty. 

That is a glorious fellow, the Hesperus,* that you sent 
me lately. He belongs altogether to the mongrel class, but 
is still not without imagination and humor, and has often a 
right droll idea, so that he is pleasant reading for the long 
nights. I like him better than the biographies. 

My wife is better and Carl is doing well. When you 
pass through, you will find us, I hope, all improved. 

Remember me to Meyer. Farewell and get well soon. 



Here are the sketches of the letters we spoke of, in 
which there will be much to retouch, if you are satisfied 
with the leading ideas. Such essays are like dice in 
backgammon ; there is produced mostly something not 
expected, but still something must be produced. Before 

• A novel, by Jean Paul F. Richter. 



the end of the month I shall not go from this, and will 
leave behind for you for the seventh number the usual 
quantity of the conversations. By that time too the second 
half of the fifth book will be copied, and thus I shall have 
turned adverse circumstance to as much account as pos- 
sible for my labors. Farewell and do you the same. I 
wish success to the Epistle. 

Weimar, 13th June, 1795. 



Jena, 15th June, 1795. 

The fifth book of Meister I have read with downright 
intoxication, and wdth one undivided feeling. Even in 
Meister there is nothing that has taken such powerful 
hold on me and borne me aAvay so involuntarily in its 
twirl. Only when I had finished it did my mind recover 
its calmness. When I reflect through what simple means 
you have produced so absorbing an interest, my astonish- 
ment is still increased. Also as to individual parts, I 
found in it admirable passages. Meister's justification 
against Werner of his adoption of a theatrical life, this 
adoption itself, Serlo, the prompter, Philina, the wild night 
in the theatre, &c., are all singularly happy. You have 
turned the appearance of the anonymous ghost to such 
account, that I know not what to say of it. The whole 
idea is among the happiest that I know, and you have 
known how to drain to the last drop the interest it w^as 
susceptible of. At the conclusion, indeed, every one ex- 
pects to see the ghost at the table, but as you yourself 
allude to this circumstance, one is satisfied that there must 
be good reasons for his non-appearance. As to who the 



ghost is, there will be as many conjectures as there are 
persons in the novel who by possibility might have played 
it. The majority with us are quite certain that Marianne 
is the ghost, or at least in league with it. We are also 
disposed to regard the female elf who gets into Meister's 
chamber, as one and the same person as the ghost ; on 
the last appearance I, however, thought of Mignon, who 
seems on that evening to have had many revealings con- 
cerning her sex. You perceive from this, how well you 
have succeeded in guarding your secret. 

The only thing that 1 have to object to in this fifth book 
is, that it sometimes struck me that you have given to that 
portion which relates exclusively to theatrical life more 
space than is consistent with the free and large idea of the 
whole. It looks occasionally as if you w'ere writing for 
players, whereas your purpose is only to write of them. 
The care you bestow^ upon certain little details of this 
subject, and individual excellences of the art, which, al- 
though important to the player and stage manager, are not 
so to the public, give to your representation the false ap- 
pearance of a particular design ; and even one who does 
not infer such a design, might accuse you of being too 
much under the influence of a private preference for these 
subjects. Could you conveniently reduce this part of the 
work into narrower bounds, the whole would certainly 
thereby be improved. 

Now, a few words about your letters to the editor of 
the Haren. It has occurred to me before, that we would 
do well to open in the Horen a critical arena. Articles of this 
character would give at once additional life to the Journal and 
excite certain interest in the public. Only we must take 
care not to let the sword go out of our own hands, which 



Ave should do, if through a formal invitation we yielded to 
the public and to authors a decided privilege. What we 
should receive from the public would assuredly be most 
contemptible, and we know by experience how trouble- 
some authors would be. My plan is, to make the attacks 
from the midst of our own circle ; and then, if authors 
wished to defend themselves in the Hnren, they would 
have to submit to the conditions which, we chose to pre- 
scribe to them. My advice, therefore, is, that we 
should commence at once with doing the thing, and not 
with a proposal about it. It will not hurt us to be thought 
saucy and ferocious. 

What would you say if I, in the name of a Mr. X., 
made complaint against the author of Wilhelm Meister, 
that he takes so much pleasure in tarrying among players, 
and in his novel avoids good society ? (For this is the 
general objection that the elegant world makes to Meister, 
and it were not superfluous, and not uninteresting, to set 
people right on this point.) If you are disposed to reply, 
I w'lW fabricate you such a letter.. 

I hope that your health is improved. May heaven 
watch over your occupations, and have in store for you 
many more hours as beautiful as those were in which you 
wrote Meister. 

I anxiously look for the contributions to the Almanac, 
and the conversations you promise. We are all better. 

SCH. [ 


Your approbation of the fifth book of the Novel was i 
very welcome to me, and has invigorated me for the labor I 
that is still before me. I am pleased to find that the fan- ; 



tastic and sportive mysteries have their effect, and that 
you testify in favor of the execution of the concerted situ- 
ations. The more willingly have I availed myself of 
your objections relating to the theoretic practical chat, 
and have put the shears to work on several passages. 
Such remains of the early execution will never be got 
entirely rid of, notwithstanding I have shortened the first 
manuscript almost one-third. 

With respect to the letters to the editor, and your plan 
in connection with them, we shall easily come to an agree- 
ment when we meet and can talk it over. I shall be with 
you about the end of next week, and if possible bring 
with me the promised tale. 

On Saturday, I will send Meyer's treatise on Johann 
Bellini. It is beautiful, only, alas ! too short. Have the 
goodness to send back to us the Introduction, which you 
already have, because there is something to be added to it. 

I am glad that you do not dislike the new mongrel.* 
The man is really to be pitied ; he appears to live very 
isolated, and cannot, therefore, with all the good there is 
in him, get his taste purified. Unfortunately he seems 
himself to be the best company he keeps. 

I think of devoting the four weeks in Carlsbad to a re- 
vision of my labors in Natural History. I will make out 
a synopsis of what I have already done, and what I must 
next do, in order to have a framework ready for scattered 
experiments and observations. 

What do you say to a work from which I have had the 
accompanying passage copied for you ? 

Farewell, and greet the Humboldts for me. 

Weimar, 18th June, 1795. G. 
* In the original, Tragelaph. 




Jena, 19th June, 179Ö. 

Here is the Manuscript, of Meyer, with my best sahita- 
tion to him. That I may expect something from him so 
soon is very gratifying. ***** 

Tliat you deem my objections relating to the fifth book 
worthy of your attention, gives me great pleasure and new 
courage. Together with the affection 1 have for this pro- 
duct of your genius, I am full of jealousy of the impres- 
sion it makes on others, and I could not be good friends 
with him who should not know how to prize it. 

Out of w^hat mad-house you can have snatched the 
capital fragment I know not, but only a madman can so 
write. Friend Oberreit might have w^ritten it, but I doubt 
that he did. It has amused me much. 

The Post is about to start. I rejoice that I shall see 
you soon again, 



A TALE for the Horen, and a little sheet for the Almanac, 
may serve as my forerunners. Monday I shall be with 
you, and we shall have much to talk over. Voss greets 
you, and offers an antiquarian treatise on the groves of the 
gods, and, at any rate, a piece of ancient Geography. 

Herder promises very soon something on Homer. It 
would be Avell if Jacobi should send something. 

I am anxious to see what you have been at work on. 

Give my respects to your dear ladies, and to the Hum- 
boldts. I am rejoiced that I shall see you again. 

Weim.vr, 27th June, 1795. 





Jena, 6th July, 1795. 

I AM SO busy to-day with despatching the Horen^ that I 
have only a few moments to congratulate you on your 
arrival in Carlsbad, which I hope has taken place happily. 
I rejoice that of the thirty days of your absence I can 
already wipe off four. 

From Fichte I have received a letter, in which, while 
he points out very sharply the injustice I have done him, 
he is very careful not to break with me. With all his 
visible irritation he has controlled himself, and labors to 
play the reasonable. That he accuses me of having en- 
tirely misunderstood his work, follows as a matter of 
course. But that I accused him of confusion of ideas on 
his subject, this is what he has scarcely been able to for- 
give me. He will send me his treatise to read as soon as 
it is finished, and he expects that I will then retract my 
hasty judgment. Thus do matters stand, and I must do 
him the justice to say, that he has conducted himself very 
well in this critical situation. You shall read his letter 
when you return. 

Of news here I have nothing to write, except that the 
daughter of Schütz is dead, and that he himself is tole- 

Woltmann, who paid me a visit a few days since, as- 
sured me that it was not Fichte, but a certain F. (a young 
painter who studied here, and also writes poetry and 
travelled sometimes with B.) is the author of the treatise 
in the Mercury on Style in the plastic arts. B. himself 
related this, and declared in addition, that this treatise is 
the most sublime thing that ever has been written on the 
subject. I hope therefore that you will in your heart ask 



pardon of the great I* in Osmanstädt, and take at least 
this sin from his head. 

Woltmann told me that he has commenced a novel, 
which I cannot make agree with his other historical ac- 

I have yet heard nothing from Humboldt. I wish from 
my heart that your stay in Carlsbad may be serviceable 
to your health and to the work you took with you. If you 
should have an opportunity of sending me the rest of the 
fifth book, you would give me much pleasure. 

I have sent off two copies of the Horen according to 
your instructions. 

My wife sends her respects to you. Farewell, and 
hold us in friendly remembrance. 



I WILL not lose the opportunity of sending you this 
letter by Miss Göchhausen. After overcoming tolerable 
and bad roads, I arrived on the fourth evening ; until to- 
day the weather has been very bad, and now the first ray 
of sun seems to be only transient. The company is nu- 
merous and good : there is the common complaint of want 
of harmony, and each one lives after his own fashion. 
As yet, I have only seen and talked ; what will yet come 
to pass and prosper, must be waited for. At all events, I 
have at once commenced weaving a little novel, which is 
very necessary to entice one out of bed in the morning 
at five o'clock. It is to be hoped that I shall bQ able 
so to temper the sentiments, and guide the incidents, as to 
make it last a fortnight. 

* Fichte. 



As famous author, I have been right well received, and 
in this character have been the subject of some strange 
mistakes ; for instance, a most charming little woman told 
me she had read my last works with the greatest pleasure, 
and particularly had Ardinghello interested her beyond 
measure. You can imagine that I with the greatest mo- 
desty enveloped myself in friend Heinse's mantle, and 
could thus put myself on a more confidential footing with 
my fair patroness. And I need not fear that in these 
three weeks she will detect the blunder. 

I become by degrees acquainted with the various peo- 
ple, among whom there are some very interesting, and 
shall have much to relate to you. 

On the journey hither, I thought over several old tales, 
and a variety of things passed through my head as to the 
manner of treating them. I will one of these days write 
one out, in order that we may have a text before us. 
Farewell, and think of me. 

Carlsbad, 8th July, 1795. 

G. ' 


• Carlsbad, 19th July, 1795. 

Your valued letter of the 6th I did not receive until 
the 17th: how I thank you, that in the whirlpool of a 
perfectly strange world you let me hear the sound of a 
friendly voice. Miss Beulwitz takes this with her : I 
hope it will reach you soon. 

The effect of the water is very good, but I lead the life 
of a genuine watering-place visitor, and pass my days in 
absolute idleness, am constantly among the company, 
where there is no want of pleasant conversation and little 
adventures. I shall have many things to tell of. 



On the other hand, however, neither is the fifth book of 
the Novel copied, nor a single epigram achieved, and if 
the other half of ray stay here is like the first, I shall 
return poor in good works. 

I was very glad to hear that the Osmanstädtan / has 
behaved well, and that no breach has followed your expla- 
nation : perhaps he will learn by and by to bear contra- 

To me too has the sublime treatise F. in the Mercury 
been praised by B., and the name of the author revealed. 
Tt is but too true that this spirit of presumptuous halfness 
stalks in Rome too, and our friends there will become 
better acquainted with the three styles. What a strange 
mixture of self-delusion and clearness do these people 
require for their existence, and what a terminology has 
this circle created for itself, in order to appropriate that 
which does not become them, and to set up as the serpent 
of Moses that which they do possess ! 

But of all this more fully when I get back. My fingers 
are stiff and cold : the weather is vile, and everybody un- 

Live you the better, and warmer, and think of ftie. 



Jena, 20th July, 1795. 

That for the last twelve days I have been ill, and 
thereby prevented from giving you any account of myself, 
my wife has written you. I hope you have received her 
letter, and one from me, which left this four days after you. 

Yours has given me much pleasure, and I hope that the 
Heinsian mask may bring you many pleasant adventures. 

schiij.e;r a.vd goetiie. 


It is weil to find oneself well received by ladies under 
such a firm, for then the greatest difficulty is overcome. 

I am impatient to hear what progress you have made in 
your health and your occupations. What I hear of the 
Centaur sounds very well. Everybody is delighted with 
the Elegies, and no one thinks of being scandalized by 
them. But the most formidable tribunals have not yet 
spoken. I, too, have my portion of praise for my share 
in the Centaur — indeed, I am even more fortunate than 
you, for scarcely eight days after the appearance of this 
number, I received from a Leipzig author a formal poem 
in my praise. 

In the meantime, two new articles, from places whence 
I expected nothing, have been sent in for the Horen. The 
one treats of Grecian and Gothic architecture, and under 
a tolerably careless style, and with much that is unimport- 
ant, contains many good ideas. After a long deliberation 
whether I should accept it, the novelty and suitableness of 
the subject for the Journal determined me to do so, par- 
ticularly as it is not long. The second, making scarcely 
a sheet, investigates the notions of the ancients on Des- 
tiny. It is by a man of superior talents, and a keen 
thinker, and I shall therefore make use of it without hesi- 
tation. I received it only an hour since. 

Jacobi has at last sent in his Essay. It is full of excel- 
lent matter, particularly on impartiality in judging of the 
modes of representation of others, and breathes through- 
out a liberal Philosophy. I cannot define its subject. 
Under the title — Occasional Outpourings of a Solitary 
Thinker (in letters to Ernestine), a variety of things are 
treated of. 

From Herder I have received neither manuscript nor 



intelligence for many weeks. Humboldt is arrived safe, 
but found his mother ill. 

My poetical labors advance very slowly, as I have been 
for whole weeks unfit for any kind of work. You will, 
however, find something when you come. 

Farewell, and may heaven bring you back in health 
and spirits. 



A LETTER can arrive sooner than myself, therefore will I 
thank you for your last. Your first letter was twelve 
days on the road, the second five, and the last seven ; so 
irregular is the Post. 

I am sorry to learn that in the meantime you have left 
off work from necessity. I have continued the life I 
began, lived only in company, and been very well content. 
One might travel a hundred miles without seeing so many 
people and so closely. No one is at home ; hence, every 
one is more accessible, and the more disposed to show his 
best side. The fifth book is copied, and the sixth can be 
ready in a few days. Little has been done at the Epi- 
grams, and nothing at anything else. 

I congratulate you on the new contributions, and am 
curious to read them. 

About you I am much questioned, and I answer according 
as the question is. Generally, the public has only a most 
obscure idea of the author. One hears nothing but old 
opinions : of his development and progress very few take 
any note. I must, however, be just, and say that I have 
met with some who are in this respect remarkable excep- 



The sixth number of the Horen has not yet penetrated 
into these mountains. 

Farewell : greet your dear wife from me. 

Carlsbad, 29th July, 1795. 



Expectation continues to rise, but yet one sees alrea- 
dy from a distance that the forest begins to grow brighter 
with light. The mention of the Marianne has a fine 
effect, and Mignon grows with each book. The gloomy 
Harper gets ever gloomier and more mysterious, and 
Philine pleases me as much as ever. It is delightful how 
in this book you recall to mind past persons and scenes. 

Much attention is to be recommended on account of 
the many names of authors, also on account of some irre- 
gularities in the manner of writing (sometimes des Publi' 
cumSf sometimes des Publici, &c.). In the poem at the 
end, you have used a word long, which by position is 
necessarily short, and a verb short that must remain long. 

Pardon my scrawl. I must hurry, in order not to detain 
the manuscript longer. 

I hope soon to hear from you again, and wish you joy 
on your arrival at Weimar. 

My friendly salutation to Meyer. 



Here I send you at last the collection of Epigrams, on 
single sheets, numbered, and for the sake of method, with 
an index annexed : for several reasons I do not wish my 
name to appear on the title. In the motto I think it advi- 
sable to point to antiquity. 




In the arrangement of them I have placed those which 
belong together in succession, and sought also to produce 
a certain gradation and variety ; but, at the same time, in 
order to avoid all stiffness, I have intermingled in the fore- 
part under the Venetian head, forerunners of the other 
kinds. Some which you have run your pen through, I 
have endeavored to make acceptable by modification. No. 
78 I wish (however unimportant it is) kept in the place it 
is, in order to irritate and vex the school, which, as I hear, 
triumphs at my silence. If you meet with anything else 
to object to, let me know, if there is time, and if not, cor- 
rect it yourself without hesitation. 

I wish to have a few extra copies of this little book to 
lay them by for use in a future edition. 

Will you give a particular charge on the score of mis- 
prints : some very ugly ones have crept into the Elegies. 

So soon as the Almanac is published, I could make 
short notes for the Elegies and Epigrams, in which the 
mistakes of the press should be mentioned, and insert 
them as an article in the Horen, which might serve more 
than one good purpose : how easy it would be to refer in 
a few words at the end of the title book to these really 
indispensable notes. 

I send this package by a messenger, in order that it may 
reach you as soon as possible, and in order that I may get 
back the Novel which I must not delay any longer. 

I foresee that I shall have to go to Ilmenau the begin- 
ning of September, and that I shall not get away from 
there for ten or fourteen days : between this and then I 
have much to do, and 1 should like to know from you, 
what you want for the Hoven. I think I could furnish 
you as follows : 



August — Conversations, conclusion of the last story. 
Hymn, which I wish you to send back to me for this pur- 

September — Drama and Novel. The little tale. With 
this I would close the Conversations, and it were perhaps 
well if, though a product of the imagination, they were 
projected into the Infinite. 

October — Continuation of the tale. Notes to the Ele- 
gies and Epigrams. 

November and December — Announcement of Cellini, and, 
if possible, something from Faust. 

As to this last, it is with me as with a powder that set- 
tles down after its solution in a liquid ; so long as you stir 
it, it seems to unite again, but the moment I place it before 
me, it settles by degrees to the bottom. 

Write me before all else how you are and how your 
labors go on, and farewell. 

Weimar, ITth August, 1795. 



Jkna, lüth August, 1795. 

I TOOK your late promise literally, and counted with 
certainty on seeing you here to-morrow : this is the reason 
why I kept Meister so long, and wrote you nothing con- 
cerning it. I could have wished very much to talk with 
you about it, because in a letter one does not think of 
everything, and for such things dialogue is indispensable. 
It seems to me that you could not have seized the subject 
from a more happy side than you have done in the manner 
in which you unfold internally the silent communion 
between the human and the holy. This relation is tender 



and delicate, and the course you make it take is exceed- 
ingly accordant with nature. 

The transition from Religion generally to the Christian, 
through the experience of sin, is a masterly conception. 
The leading ideas of the whole are admirable, only, I fear, 
somewhat too gently indicated. Nor am I sure that to 
many readers the story will not seem to stand still. Per- 
haps it would have been well had several parts been 
drawn a little nearer together, others compressed, on the 
other hand, some leading ideas more expanded. Your 
endeavor to purify your subject and as it were restore it to 
honor, by avoiding the trivial phraseology of devotion, did 
not escape me ; but, nevertheless, I have marked some 
passages which, I fear, a Christian spirit might reprehend 
as being treated with too much levity. 

These few words on what you have said and intimated. 
This subject, however, is of such a nature, that one is 
tempted to speak of that which is not said. True, this 
book is not finished, and therefore I do not know what may 
yet follow ; nevertheless, the appearance of the Uncle, 
with his sound reason, seems to me to bring on a crisis. 
If this is so, then the subject, I think, is concluded too 
quickly : for it seems to me, that too little is said of the 
Christian Religion proper and the Christian Religion's 
enthusiasm ; that that which this religion may be to a fine 
spirit, or rather what a fine spirit can make out of it, is 
not sufficiently set forth. I find in the Christian religion 
virtually the foundation of the highest and noblest ; and the 
various manifestations of the same in life, appear to me 
only therefore so repugnant and insipid, because they are 
failed representations of this highest. If we confine our- 
seWes to the peculiar characteristic of Christianity, which 



distinguishes it from all monotheistic Religions, it consists 
in nothing else than the Abrogation of the Law (the Kan- 
tean imperative), in the place of which Christianity arises 
to establish a free will. It is, therefore, in its pure form, 
the exhibition of beautiful morality, or the embodying in 
man of the holy, and in this sense the only cesthetic Reli- 
gion ; thence, too, I explain to myself why this Religion 
has had success with female nature, and only in women is 
met with still in a bearable form. But I will not in a letter 
say more on this delicate subject, and only add, that I 
should have liked to hear this cord sounded a little. 

Your wishes respecting the Epigrams shall be minutely 
conformed to. The misprints in the Elegies vexed me too 
very much, and I had the most important of them immedi- 
ately pointed out in the intelligence-sheet of the Literary 
Gazette : they are, however, mistakes of the copier, and 
not of the compositor, and therefore will be the more easily 
guarded against in future. 

By the performance of what you promise for the remain- 
ing months of the Horen, you will gratify me greatly, and 
I again repeat my petition concerning Faust. Let it be, 
too, only a scene of two or three pages. The tale will 
give hearty pleasure, and 'the Conversations for this year 
conclude very well. 

I have not been better in body this week, but neverthe- 
less have been in a mood to write some small poems, 
which will increase my collection. 

Farewell — I long to see you and our friend Meyer. 





To the Hymn, which I send herewith, I have done as 
much as the shortness of the time will permit. The end 
of the narration and the transition to the tale I will send 
over as soon as possible, but I do not think that it will 
make one printed sheet. For the tale itself I feel in a 
good mood ; it amuses me, and will therefore probably be 
amusing to others too. 

Your testimony that with my seventh book I have at 
least passed the rocks safely, is of great value to me, and 
your further remarks on the subject have very much grati- 
fied and encouraged me. As the heroine of the sixth 
book derives from the appearance of the Uncle only so 
much as suits her, and as it is only in the eighth book, in 
another generation, that I exhibit the Christian Religion 
in its present sense, and as I agree fully with what you 
write of it, therefore, you will in the end find nothing want- 
ing, particularly if we talk the matter over once more 

It is true that I have entered this field with a very gen- 
tle step, and, by avoiding every kind of dogmatizing, and 
completely concealing my purpose, have perhaps some- 
what weakened the eff'ect on the great mass of the public. 
It is difiicult in such cases to keep the middle way. 

Farewell — ]^Ieyer greets you. More soon. 

Weimar, 18lh August, 1T95. 



My present contribution turns out to be rather a spring 
than an easy transition from common life to a tale of won- 
der. You must make the most of it. 



Herder's Homer, which I have just read with Meyer, is 
I excellent, and will give lustre to the Horen. I will see 
that you get it to-morrow by the carrier woman. You will 
receive the first part of the tale before the end of the month. 

Weimar, 2lst August, 1795. 



Friday Evening, 22d August. 

I RECOLLECT once about seven years ago, sitting in 
Weimar with all my money spent, except about two Grosch- 
I en,* and not knowing whence any more was to come. 
In this extremity, think of my delightful surprise on 
receiving, that very day, a long forgotten debt of the Lite- 
rary Gazette. 'Twas indeed the finger of Providence, 
and so was too your to-day's package. I knew not what 
I could send to Cotta, who wants copy for the ninth num- 
ber ; and you, like a messenger from Heaven, send me, 
only it is true about half a sheet, but yet enough, with the 
Apollo, to make a whole one. 

I shall scarcely have time to read this manuscript, 
although I shall look through it carefully in regard to 

I rejoice at your account of the tale, for it seems to meto 
come into the world under good auspices. 

Herder's treatise will be, too, a most agreeable appari- 
tion to me. 

Humboldt greets you. I shall have all kinds of curious 
things to tell you about the Horen and something about 
Meister, when you come over, which I beg you to do soon. 


* A Groschen is about two cents. 





To-morrow morning I go with Councillor Voigt to 
Ilmenau, and would be happy in my rovings, if I could 
think that I left you well and not hindered in so much 
good by sickness. Meyer greets you. I am anxious to 
hear that the tale has in the end made a good impression 
upon you, and removed the first unfavorable one. When 
I say to you farewell, it means always — make use as here- 
tofore of favorable hours for our enjoyment. 

Weimar, 24th August, 1795. 



From social, idle Carlsbad, I could not have passed to a 
more opposite existence than that up in secluded Ilmenau. 
The few days I have been here have flown very rapidly, 
and I must remain here eight days longer, if I wish to un- 
derstand the affairs as well as is desirable. I always liked 
to be here and do so still ; I believe it is because of the 
harmony of everything ; region, men, climate, occupations. 
A quiet, moderate, frugal endeavor, and everywhere the 
union of handicraft with machinery, and, notwithstanding 
its isolation, a greater intercourse with the world than 
many a little city in a level accessible country. Thus far 
I have not had an idea but what related to the place ; it 
was, however, necessary that I should get this business off 
my mind before the winter. Fare you well in other 
regions, and think of me. 

Ilmenau, 29th August, 1795. 




XC V, 

Jena, 29th August, 1795. 

The tale is variegated and lively, and I find very well 
put in practice the idea you once mentioned — " the mutual 
aid given by the faculties and the referring back of one to 
the other." My v^ife is much pleased with it ; she finds it 
in the Voltaire style, and in this I think she's right. For 
the rest, by your manner of treating it, you have laid on 
yourself the obligation of making everything symbolical. 
One cannot refrain oneself from seeking a meaning in 
everything. The four kings made a fine show, and the ser- 
pent as a bridge is a charming figure. Very characteristic 
is the beautiful lily with its pug-dog. The whole presents 
itself as the production of a gay mood. Yet I could have 
wished that the end were not separated from the begin- 
ning, because both halves have so much need of one an- 
other. If, therefore, it is the same to you, whether it 
appears in one or divided, I will begin the next number 
with it. I can fortunately make out for the ninth, and then, 
if the tale goes into the tenth number entire, it will be the 
more welcome. 

The conclusion is wanting to the epigram which I send 
herewith. Be so good as to send it back to me by the 
earliest opportunity. My health is not yet much better. 
I fear I must pay for the lively excitement into which my 
poetizing put me. For i)hilosophizing, the half of the 
man is sufficient, and the other half can repose ; but the 
Muses suck one out. 

Take my heartfelt greeting for your birth-day. 


P.S. I have not yet sent a copy of the eighth number 
to the Duke. Be so good as to attend to it. 

If you wish to write to Humboldt, I can enclose the 




Jkna, 9th September, 1795. 

We wish you joy on your return to Weimar. Why can 
I not share with you these little changes which strengthen 
the body and soul ! 

The tale will now have to be deferred to the tenth num- 
ber, as during the time that I was waiting for your deter- 
mination, I was obliged to send the best of my treatises 
for the ninth. It is also the more needed for the tenth, 
because I have not yet any brilliant prospect for it : and 
if you still wish it divided, the conclusion can follow in 
the eleventh. But I am never in favor of separating where 
this can possibly be avoided, because we cannot so fix the 
attention of the public, Uiat it will take into view the whole 
of a thing, and thereafter form its judgment. 

If the sixth book of Meister is finished, can you not 
think of something more for one of the last numbers of the 
Horcn ? We must now put out all our sail, for I know 
from several places, also from Cotta's letters, that we are 
by no means sure of retaining all our subscribers for the 
next year. 

For the ninth number I have done honestly what I could. 
I have inserted in it all my larger and smaller poems that 
were not absolutely necessary for the Almanac, so that this 
number contains seventeen articles, which will make peo- 
ple open their eyes. I will send you the table of contents. 

During the time that you were absent, I have alternated 
between prosaic and poetical labors. A treatise on the 
Naive that I have commenced promises well ; the subject 
at least developes itself, and I find myself on an excellent 

I hope we shall see you soon again. jMy wife greets 





Jena, 13th September, 1795. 

OxLY a small sign of life. I can by no means accus- 
tom myself to being eight days without either writing to 
you or hearing from you. 

Everything here with me is pretty much in the old con- 
dition. I am not yet out of my room, but my labors pro- 
ceed, notwithstanding, on their way. I figure you to my- 
self as just now much busied with giving instruction to 
Meyer, who I suppose will set out soon on his journey. 
Greet him warmly from me. 
• I wish to know whether it is at Vicenza that the beau- 
tiful bridge is carried (over the Etsch I think) in one arch. 
Write me a word about it. I want this bridge for an hexa- 

If you would only consent to give some little additional 
alms to the last three numbers of the Horen^ in the form of 
a dozen epigrams, or similar little poetical things. I shall 

j make the same request of Herder, and will myself try to 
catch some ideas, for sucH little things increase the num- 
ber of articles at a trifling cost, give pleasure to every 
reader, and make as much show in the table of contents 
as the longest. In this way I have made the ninth num- 

; ber contain seventeen articles. 


1. Realm of Shadows. 

2. Contributions to the History of Modern Plastic Art. 

3. Conversations — Continuation. 

4. Hymn to Apollo. 

5. Schwarzburg. Poems by Madame Mereau. 

6. Homer, by Herder. 

7. Nature and Art, by me. 


8. Veiled Portrait, idem. 

9. On the necessary limits of the Beautiful, particularly 

in the explanation of philosophical truths. Dis- 
sertation by me. 

10. German Faithfulness. 

11. To a Reformer. 

12. Antique to a Traveller. 

13. The Philosophical Egotist. I 

14. The Ghost. ^ Poems by me. 

15. Wisdom and Prudence. 

16. Iliad. 

17. Immortality. 
In the last number of the Archives of the Times there is 

an answer to your article on Literary Sans-culottism. I 
have not read it, but only seen a notice of it in the Ham- 
burgh Gazette. If you get the number in Weimar, be so 
good as to let me see it. 

The Almanac is now in press. Humboldt will be back 
here again in three weeks if nothing intervenes. 

My wife greets you. Be not too diligent, and stay not 
too long away from Jena. 



I HAVE not written for some days because I designed to 
visit you, in which I have been disappointed. Meyer is 
making preparations for setting out, and is now at work on 
a colored drawing of the three Fates, which you must see. 
I wish him only health ; in other respects he goes equipt 
with all excellent qualities. He is a glorious man. As 
to myself, I have, as you will easily understand, latterly 
stood only on one foot, and stretched out the other towards 



the Alps. The mineralogical and geological basis, the 
original and the progressive, and the interrupted culture of 
the land, I have endeavored partly to get an insight into, 
partly a general view over ; and have fully discussed too 
with Meyer the department of art. And yet all this is only 
school exercise. May a good genius aid us in seeing, in 
drawing just conclusions from what we see, and to a happy 
re-meeting !* 

I think daily of the Horen, and hope to furnish some- 
thing more. May you have been able to enjoy the fine 
weather in the open air. 

The chastised Thersites cringes, I hear, pitifully begs 
off, and only beseeches to be allowed to live. 1 have not 
yet seen his piece. f 

Farewell and believe my prophecy, that with the new 
year the subscribers to the Horen will rather increase than 

Weimar, 14th September, 1795. , 



I FORGOT in my last letter to say anything of your ques- 
tion about the bridge. There is not at Vicenza any 
noted one-arched bridge. The two there, built by Pal- 
ladio, are tri-arched. Nor, except the Rialto at Venice, 
do I recollect any such in that regien. 

Besides the repentance of the literary Sans-culotte, an- 
other friendly star has appeared for the Horen, inasmuch 
as Genz, in his monthly journal, does great reverence to 

* All this refers apparently to the preparations for his friend 
Meyer's journey. 

t Alluded to in Schiller's previous letter. 




the letters on aesthetic education. All this is very season- 
able, and it were worth considering, whether we should 
not, before the end of the year, declare ourselves on cer- 
tain matters, and spread hope and fear among authors and 

We shall visit you soon ; have the goodness to send me 
back the tale, it shall be returned to you completed. 

Weimar, 16th September, 1795. 



Jexa, 18th September, 1795. 

According to your request I send the tale. If I have 
it back in eight days it will be in time for the press. 

I am heartily thankful for the encouraging news you 
give me about the Horen. I also hope that the last num- 
bers of the year will be still more successful. They will 
contain a great deal of exactly that which was missed in 
the foregoing, viz. : poetry and narrative. A few days 
since Engle too sent me another article, more than three 
printed sheets long, of a character very suitable for the 
public, part dialogue, and part narration ; in truth no pro- 
digy of genius, but just the kind of thing that our dear 
readers like. But that there will be something for those 
also who are too good for such offerings, you, I gladly and 
firmly believe, will provide. 

The tenth number is safe through the tale. Only the 
eleventh, therefore, is to be cared for, and in that we must 
concentrate our strength. Variety, particularly, we must 
not fail to give it. 

If you would only move Herder to give us for the last 



numbers, little things, as Epigrams in the style of the 
anthology, &c. 

Humboldt writes me from Berlin that the three last pub- 
lished numbers are well spoken of there. 

If you get the Archives of the Times and the Genzian 
Monthly sooner than I, be so good as to send me the cap- 
ital things. 

I am glad that I shall see you here soon. We both 
greet you. 



The tale is finished, and will be sent to you newly 
copied on Saturday. It was well that you held it back, 
partly because it has now been improved in many respects, 
partly because it is not unreasonably long. I beg particu- 
larly that your dear wife will read it through again from 
beginning to end. 

In the middle of next week I hope to come over with 
Meyer : I shall feel his absence very much. If I can 
only in the Winter be some time with you ! 

I have much to say and to ask, and hope to find you 
well, with much work done. Greet Humboldt for me. 

Weimar, 23d September, 1795. 



What I have been about in these troublesome times, 
you will learn, my dear friend, from the annexed. Blessed 
are they who write tales : for tales are a Vordre du jour. 
The landgrave of Darmstadt has arrived in Eisenach with 
two hundred horse, and the emigrants there threaten to 



move their quarters thither. The Elector of Aschaffen- 
burg is expected in Erfurth. 

* Ah ! — Wherefore stands the Fane not on the river ! 
Ah ! — Wherefore is the Bridge not yet built up !" 

I wish, as we must ever nevertheless remain men and 
authors, that my production may not displease you. How 
serious every trifle becomes, the moment one treats it ac 
cording to the principles of art, I have on this occasion 
again experienced. I hope that the eighteen figures of 
this Drama will be w^elcome, as so many riddles, to the 
lovers of riddles. 

Meyer is packing up, and we shall be with you soon 
I hope that you have much to regale us with. Farewell. 

Weimar, 26th September, 1795. 



I HEAR from our friend, who sends his best regard to 
you, that you have entirely buried yourself in your room 
in order to hasten your novel, because Unger is urgent to 
have it. My best wishes for this labor. I am full o 
curiosity to see this third part in one mass. 

The day after to-morrow, then, we shall see you again 
at which I am heartily rejoiced, and which I have Ion 

Humboldt will not return here this winter : this is 
great disappointment to me. 

Have the goodness to bring with you the Archives of 
the Times, which contains the famous answer to your 

* Ach ! — Warum steht der Tempel nicht am Flusse ! 
Ach ! — Warum ist die Brücke nicht gebaut ! 


attack, and also the number of the new monthly work, in 
which my praise is set down. I can get sight of neither 

I hear with pleasure that you are endeavoring to obtain 
for the Horen a new acquisition of which I have before- 
hand a good opinion. 

The Tale has entertained us much, and is sure to please 
universally. More orally. Farewell. 

Jena, 2d October, 1795. 



Mi" wish to see you again has been latterly, constantly 
disappointed. To-morrow I hope to be with you and to 
learn what you have done in the interim. 

That you think I have been successful with the Tale, 
pleases me greatly, and I wish now to discuss with you 
the whole genus, and to make some further experiments. 

The end of the sixth book of my Novel goes off on 
Monday, and this volume will soon wait upon you printed. 
In the following one the stone will roll down hill, and the 
most of it is already finished and written. 

The journals you ask for I will have sought out, in 
order if possible to bring them with me. 

The Knebelian Elegies are well conceived, and in 
more than one sense good and satisfactory. Perhaps I 
will bring some of them with me. 

Weimar, 3(1 October, 1795. 



Instead of hurrying away from you yesterday, I would 
much rather have remained, and the uncomfortableness of 




a dissatisfied state of mind accompanied me the Avhole 
way. In so short a time one thinks of such a variety of 
subjects and executes none, and however much may be 
set in motion, little comes to maturity. 

On the journey back I thought over your poems. They 
have peculiar excellences, and I may say that they are 
now what I before expected from you. This singular 
union of contemplation and abstraction, which is in your 
nature, shows itself here in perfect equilibrium, and all 
other poetical virtues are in attendance in beautiful propor- 
tions. It will give me pleasure to see them again, in 
print, to enjoy them repeatedly, and share the enjoyment 
with others. The small poem in stanzas to the public 
would close very appropriately this year's series of the 

I have set to work immediately with Madame de Stael 
and find more labor in the task than I expected: 1 wiil, 
however, go through with it, for it is not much. The 
whole will make about fifty-five pages of my manuscript. 
The first part, of twenty-one pages, you shall have soon. 
In a short preface to the publisher I will explain the man- 
ner in which I have proceeded in the translation. In 
order to spare you petty corrections, I have made the words 
approximate to our mode of thought, and at the same time 
endeavored to give a little more precision, after our Ger- 
man fashion, to the French indefiniteness. In individual 
passages you will find much that is good, but as she is 
prejudiced, yet at the same time acute and honest, she can 
by no means obtain harmony with herself ; but you can 
make good use of it as text. I wish that you would take 
pains and be as clear and gallant as possible in your work, 
in order that hereafter we may send it to her, and thereby 



make a beginning towards leading the dance of the Horen 
over into transformed France. 



I SHALL see you soon again, for my journey to Frank- 
fort is given up. Madame de Stael will be with you be- 
fore I shall : the copying is almost done. Did you speak 
to Humboldt about his lodgings ? It would be very 
pleasant if I. could take possession of his little room, as 
the tread of the military is not likely to cease soon in the 
castle. I am now at the Novel with all my heart and 
mind, and will not waver till I have conquered it. Fare- 
well, and think of me in your labors, and greet your dear 
wife from me. 

Eisenach, 16fh October, 1795. 



16th October, 1795. 

Could I have supposed that you would remain longer 
in Eisenach, I should not have so long deferred writing to 
you. It is a satisfaction to me to know that you are on 
the Main, far away from strife and bustle. The shadow of 
the giant might easily fall on you ungently. It often 
strikes me as strange, when I think of you launched upon 
the busy world, while I am sitting between my paper win- 
dows, and have nothing but paper before me : and that we, 
nevertheless, are near to each other, and can understand 
each other. 

Your letter from Weimar gave me great pleasure. For 
every hour of courage and confidence, there are always 
ten in which I am faint-hearted and know not what to 



think of myself. At such times such a view of myself 
from without is a great consolation to me. Herder, too, 
wrote me a short time since a most friendly letter about 
my poems. 

This much I now know from certain experience, that 
lightness can only be obtained by severe precision in the 
thoughts. Formerly I believed the opposite and feared 
hardness and stiffness. I am now glad that I did not let 
myself be deterred from pursuing a difficult course, which 
I regarded as often destructive of poetical imagination. 
This exertion, however, strains the mind exceedingly, for 
while the philosopher can let his imagination repose, and 
the poet his abstracting faculty, I am obliged in this man- 
ner of proceeding, to keep both faculties always in equal 
action, and only by a constant excitement within me can 
I hold these two heterogeneous elements in a kind of 

I look for a de Stael sheet with much curiosity. If the 
space will permit it, I am for putting the whole at once 
into one number. I will then let my comments follow in 
the next number. In the mean time the reader will have 
made his own, and will listen to me with more interest. 
In the short term that is yet left for the eleventh number, 
I should hardly have time to get them ready, even though 
I should receive the translation on Monday next. Herder 
has also sent for the eleventh number a treatise on the 
Graces, in which he endeavors to restore these abused 
personages to their old rights. He promises another arti- 
cle for the twelfth number. I hope to get ready for the 
eleventh my dissertation on the Naive, which will be 
several sheets long, and is, I think, written in a popular 
style. Nor will there be any want of little poetical addi- 



tions. Herewith I send you some trifles of mine. The 
Partition of the Eartli^ you might very properly read out 
aloud from a window in Frankfort, which is a suitable lo- 
cality for it. If it amuses you, read it to the Duke. 

In the other piece I have ridiculed a philosophical 
axiom : philosophy appears always ridiculous, when, with 
her own means, without acknowledging her dependence on 
experience, she pretends to enlarge the domain of know- 
ledge and give laws to the world. 

I am glad that you intend soon to take Meister in hand 
again. I will then not delay to master the whole, and if 
I can, I will try on it a new kind of criticism, according to 
a synthetical method, if, what I cannot now undertake to 
say, such a one be possible. 

My wife, and my mother-in-law, who is at present here, 
send their best regards to you. I have been asked here, 
where you now are, but I did not think it necessary to 
say. If you receive any accounts from our Italian travel- 
ler, pray communicate them to me. Farewell. 



Sunday Evening. 

I AM impatient to receive from you a token that you are 
alive. It seems to me a very long time since I heard from 
you. The event in your house has, I hope, been happily 
got through with. 

We live now in the buffeting times of the middle ages. 
It is a real Ecclesia Militans — the Horen I mean. Besides 
the nations that Mr. J. in H. is at the head of, and that 
Mr. M. of the library of S. W. has had ordered out, and 

* A short poem by Schiller. 



besides W.'s heavy cavalry, we have soon to expect a 
rough attack from Nicolai of Berlin. In the tenth portion 
of his travels, it is said that he treats of scarcely anything 
else but the Horen, falls foul of the application of Kantean 
Philosophy, and throws everything, the good as well as 
the bad, into one pot. It is a question now, whether we 
ought to answer these platitudes. I would rather be for 
contriving a means of making an indifference to them con- 
spicuous. We should, however, henceforward, in texts 
and notes, and at every opportunity, treat Nicolai with a 
marked contempt. 

Have you seen the new Alma?iacs of the Muses ? They 
are execrable. Farewell. 



Although I shall be in Weimar again on Wednesday, 
I send you beforehand the treatise : I have not even been 
able to look through it since it was copied : here and there, 
there will be something to correct. Perhaps I shall visit 
you at the end of the week, and we will see each other 
again sooner than I expected. What an empty life is a 
divided* life ! One learns exactly that which one does 
not care about knowing. 

Eisenach, 17th Oct., 1795. 



Welcome to Weimar ! I am right glad to know that 
you are again near me. I regret that you could not be 
here during the last eight days. With the fine weather I 

* Divided is the nearest I can come to the German zerstreut, 
wliich means here a life divided among a variety of objects. 



felt iiiiicli lighter, and rode out again to-day, which agreed 
very well with me. On the other hand, no work has been 
doiie for several days. 

Mad. de Stael I expect with curiosity. 

My letter, which I wrote to you at Eisenach on Friday, 
you probably have not yet received, and had set out before 
it arrived. 

I am looking for an answer from Humboldt about the 
lodgings. As I do not know whether his room can be 
given up to another, I have touched upon the subject so 
lightly that he may feel at liberty to pass the subject by in 
silence. I shall be rejoiced if you can get accommodated 
here comfortably. 

I wish all prosperity to the Novel. I do not doubt that 
the best for the whole now is, that you devote yourself to 
it without interruption. For I look upon it as no unimpor- 
tant advantage, if you have the last volume finished some 
months earlier than it will be wanted for the press. You 
have a large account to close : how easy it were to forget 
a trifle. 

If you can find among your papers the letter I wrote to 
you last year, after my return to Jena, as the opening of an 
aesthetic correspondence, have the goodness to send it to 
me. I think of making something out of it. My wife, 
and mother-in-law, who is spending some weeks here, 
send their respects. 



I AM curious to learn what the paper will bring us : so 
early as yesterday I heard a buzz about it at the theatre. 

I do not come to-day, my dear friend, but I hope soon. 
Every day, I expect a new citizen of the world in ray 



house, to whom I would like to give a friendly reception. 
In the mean time the castle will be purified from military- 
effluvia, and I shall be able to remain some days with 

Farewell ; commend me to the ladies, and keep me in 
your love. 

In these last interrupted days I have busied myself with 
my Italian collections, and begun to arrange them, and 
perceived with great joy that with some industry a mar- 
vellous work may be put together. 

Have you no copy of the treatise on the Naive ? 

Weimar, 25th October, 1795. 


The letter you inquire for I have not yet found. It is, 
however, certainly near at hand. 


Jena, 25th October, 1795. 

I CONGRATULATE you beforehand on the new inmate. 
Let it be a girl, and then we shall be able by and by to be- 
come kin to one another. 

I forgot the day before yesterday to write you about 
Madame de Stael. The work is written with much 
genius, and as there is in it more thunder and lightning 
than common weather, it is well calculated to be com- 
mented upon. To introduce strict harmony into it would 
be difficult, and would not repay the trouble. 

You have several times used the word seduce [verführ- 
en], speaking of poeiry. I wish to know what this is in 
the original, whether it has the general meaning of deceive 
[täuschen], because seduce used in an (Esthetic sense has 
an accessory signification. 



I am glad that you find in your Italian papers so much 

I have been always curious about these papers, judging 
by the little that you have made known out of them. In 
your search, remember the Horen, and turn a branch of 
this Pactolus into it. 

I am anxious to know what you will say to the Wolfian 
attack when you shall have read it. Herder wishes that 
I should notice it merely as an editor, and to the extent 
that the Horen shall be involved ; and as I do not think it 
advisable to keep perfect silence, and at the very outset to 
let the adversary have the last word, I will rather do this 
than that nothing at all be said. 

I have read the two new Almanacs of the Muses, which 
are beyond measure meagre and miserable. I have given 
them to Herder to take with him. Farewell : I hope to 
hear from you again soon. 

My family greet you. 



Since my return I have not been myself ; I only, there- 
fore, send you the letter you asked for. 

I believe I have said nothing as yet of the small poems 
you sent me at Eisenach : they are very pretty, particu- 
larly The Lot of Poets, which is charming, true, pointed, 
and cheering. 

Would it not be well for you now to look around in all 
directions, and collect everything that has been said 
against the Horen in general and in particular, and pass 
judgment upon it at the end of the year ? The Halle Phi- 
losophical Journal, too, is said to have behaved in an un- 





seemly manner. When one binds up these sort of things 
in bundles they show better. 

Farewell. Love me. Commend me to your wife and 
her mother. Your little daughter-in-law has not yet made 
her appearance, 

Weimar, 28th October, 1795. 



Instead of a little girl a boy has at last arrived, and thus 
is one of my cares put to sleep. Now it is for you to pro- 
vide a girl in order to create the relationship and increase 
the poetic family. I shall now come soon, and am really 
in want of a talk, such as I can have with you. I continue 
still out of the path of poetry. From outward causes I 
have been occupied again with architecture, and have put 
together something to facilitate and fix the judgment in re- 
gard to specimens of this art. 

From Meyer I have a letter from Munich with very 
interesting accounts of that place, also from Nuremburg. 
I will bring them with me. Tell me how you are, and 
think of me. 

Weimar, 1st November, 1795. 



Jena, November 4, 1795. 

My heartfelt congratulations to the new comer. I 
should not have begrudged you a pair, but that can be 
made up. Now I hope to see you here soon, and rejoice 
in the prospect. Humboldt will be much pleased, if you 
will look upon his lodgings as entirely yours. The only 
doubt about the matter was, that Helifeld, who had stipu- 



lated in their contract that there should be no sub-letting, 
might make a difliculty. But as there is no question of 
letting, he will not be so silly as to plead the contract. In 
order to be fully prepared, I have in my hand a letter from 
Humboldt to him, which I will deliver, if you will only 
accompany it with a short note to Hellfeld, asking him for 
the key. If you pay him this respect, he will be very ac- 
commodating. I am sure that you will like these quarters 
better than the castle. 

Your Elegies have found (as the enclosed letter from 
D. Gros to Mr. Humboldt will show you) a great and by 
no means unimportant admirer in the Latin world too. I 
send you the letter itself; perhaps you may like to gratify 
the wish, which the writer expresnes, and "xontribute 
something. It seems to me that I have already on some 
occasion spoken to you of this gentleman, so much I can 
say with confidence, that our academy would make no 
insignificant acquisition in him. I knov/ few among the 
new generation who have so sound a head, so much solid 
understanding, and so correct a judgment. In the law de- 
partment he was held in m.uch esteem at Göttingen. 

I am waiting for Meister with impatience. Celerity, 
it seems, is not Unger's fort. 

Farewell. My wife sends her best regards. 

ScK. • 

Did you receive the Hoven all right last Monday ? The 
eighth copy for Meyer I gave to Miss Imhof, as our friend 
directed. The copies are in bad condition, and, moreover, 
I picked yours out. Gotta gives as excuse the war, v/hich, 
he says, interfered with the delivery of paper. 






20th November, 1795. 

From our hearts have we bewailed the loss you have 
suffered. One consolation, however, you have, that it has 
happened so early, and therefore strikes your hopes rather 
than your affections. I hardly think I could bear it, if I 
were now to lose my boy. 

For six days I have been quite tolerable, and made the 
most of the favorable time to push forward in my disser- 

Schlegel wrote to me lately, and sends something for 
the Horen. He is in ecstasy about the tale : the Hum- 
boldts, too, are much pleased with it. Will you have 
leisure to get the new one finished for January at the latest, 
it might still go into the first number. This I should like 
exceedingly, as we ought to begin well, and I have as yet 
nothing in the department of narration. 

On the new volume of Meister, for which we thank you, 
I have already collected various opinions. Every one 
thinks the sixth book in itself very interesting, true, and 
beautiful, but feels that the progress of the story is arrested 
by it. This, to be sure, is not an eesthetic judgment, for at 
the first reading, particularly of a narration, curiosity is 
more intent upon the story and conclusion than taste is 
upon the whole work. 

Are you still inclined to hold back the last volume for 
a year ? 

Mr. P. has sent me to-day a villainous production : 
Aurora, or the Child of Hell, which is a miserable imita- 
tion of Biondetta. He has the glorious idea of developing 
the whole magic as a mere machinery of a maid in love 
with the hero, who thereby endeavors to overcome him. 
All the rest is worthy this wise conception. 



Farewell, and may all the Muses be with you. My 
wife greets you. 



I have received your kind letter, and thank you for 
your sympathy, which I already knew I had. One knows 
not in such cases whether it is better to let grief have its 
natural way, or by the aid which culture offers us, to bear 
up against it. If one resolves upon the latter, as I always 
do, one is thereby bettered only for a moment, and I have 
remarked, that nature always at one time or other asserts 
her rights. 

The sixth book of my Novel has also produced a good 
impression : to be sure with such productions the poor 
reader does not himself know how matters stand with him, 
for he does not reflect, that he never would take these 
books in his hands, if the author did not understand how 
to laugh at his mode of thought, his sensibility, and his 

The testimonials in favor of my Tale are of high value 
to me, and I shall in future go to work in this department 
with more confidence. 

The last volume of the Novel cannot appear before 
Michaelmas : it were very well if we tim.ed our plans, of 
which you lately spoke, in reference to this. 

The new Tale can hardly be finished in December, nor 
must I pass on to this one, until I shall have said some- 
thing or other of the interpretation of the first. If I can 
furnish something neat of this kind in December, I shall 
be glad in this way to take part in the first entrance into 
the new year. 




Farewell ! May we long enjoy those who are dearest 
to us and our friendship. At the new year I hope to visit 
you again. 

Weimar, 21st November, 1195. 



25th November, 1795. 

I AM Very curious to see the Smith performance, and 
doubt not that the better sort of our readers will thank us 
for it. It will not, however, please the larger portion of 
them, that I'm sure of. They are only to be won by pro- 
ductions of the stamp of Lawrence Stark. You would 
not believe what general delight this work gives. No 
other has been so much talked of. 

Your displeasure against St. L., and their colleagues, 
has communicated itself to me. I shall be heartily glad if 
you give them a slap. For the rest, it is but the Histoire 
du jour. It never was otherwise, and never will be. Be 
assured that if you once write a novel or a comedy, you 
must always write novels and comedies. Nothing further 
will be expected from you, nothing acknowledged ; and, 
had the celebrated Newton made his debut with a come- 
dy, not only his optics, but even his astronomy, would have 
been for a long while sequestered from him. If, out of 
sport, you had ushered your optical discoveries into the 
world, under the name of , or some such lecture- 
room hero, you would have seen wonders produced by 
them. It is certainly less on account of the innovation, 
than of the person from whom it proceeds, that these 
ignoble people set their faces so against it. 

I should like to see St.'s delictum. I should be very 
glad if you can send it to me. In this man, obscurity and 



feebleness are united in such a degree, that I can have no 
sympathy for and with him. That strange fellow, Jenish, 
in Berlin, who must have a finger in everything, has also 
read the notices of the Horen, and, in his first excitement, 
wrote a treatise on me and my character as author, which 
was intended for a defence against their complaints. For- 
tunately, a friend withheld the manuscript from Genz, for 
whose monthly journal it was designed, and prevented the 
printing of it. But I am not secure against his having it 
printed somewhere else. It is particularly hard, that with 
such bitter and numerous enemies, I should still have the 
most to dread from the folly of a friend, which would 
have the effect of silencing at once the few voices that 
are raised in my favor. 

I shall be able to furnish a very full review of your 
Meister in August or September of next year, and then it 
will be very ä propos, I think, to publish the last volume 
at Michaelmas, 96, or Easter, 97. Perhaps there were 
some morceaux in the last volume that you might throw out 
to the public, for their momentary contentment, at Easter, 
96, at which time the whole will be expected. 

I received yesterday, at last, a fine historical article 
from Archenholz, entitled Sohicski/, which must also ap- 
pear in the last number of the Horcn. I would have given 
much that you could have done something for the first 
number of the second year. Perhaps you are disposed to 
open the war in this number. You will receive from 
Herder my treatise on the Sentimental Poets, of which you 
have only heard a small part, and which I beg you to read 
through. I hope you will be satisfied with it ; it is the 
best I can do in this kind. I think that this last judgment 
upon the largest portion of German poets, will have a 



good effect at the end of the year, and, especially give 
Messrs., our critics, something to think about. My tone 
is free and firm, aUhough, at the same time, I hope, no- 
where wanting in liberality. In my progress I have, to 
be sure, struck about me lightly in all directions, and there 
are few who come out of the conflict unwounded. 

On Naturalness, and its Rights, I have (with reference 
to the Elegies) spoken at length, on which occasion Wie- 
land is slightly grazed. But 1 cannot help it ; and, as 
people have never thought (nor Wieland neither) of sup- 
pressing their opinions of my faults, but, on the contrary, 
have let me hear them often harshly enough, I have there- 
fore now, when I happen to have the game in my hands, 
not withheld my opinion. 

Farewell. I shall rejoice if, after New Year, we can 
live together again for a good space. 



Here I send you the last filth of the noble shallow 
proser.* The passage marked in the Preface, is the one 
to be taken hold of some time when one has nothing better 
to do. 

It is incredible how ignorant in general these people 
are ; for who does not know that the Christians appro- 
priated to themselves whatever was reasonable and good, 
by ascribing it to the logos ? and my dear Christian does 
just that, page 304, and people will not think hard of the 
good creature on that account. 

A letter from Prince August,! which I send herewith, 

* One of the Counts Stolberg is probably here referred to. 
t The Grand Duke of Weimar. 



will give you pleasure ; it is none of the worst produc- 
tions of his peculiar humor. The copy, for Humboldt, T 
beg you to send me back ; he has had his from Berlin. 

I am very curious to see your treatise on the Poets. 
What I know of your ideas on this subject, has been lat- 
terly of much service to me in practice : however little 
one creates with consciousness, one needs it constantly, 
particularly in long works. For the rest, as to what you 
say of the Poets, I cannot take it ill of a man who has 
let the tricks pass for a long while, that he should now, 
when he gets the trumps in his hands, play them out too. 

Weisshuhn's article, in the sixth number of Niethham- 
mer's Journal, pleased me much. This mode of philoso- 
phizing interests me far more than that of Fichte : we 
must read the article together ; I wish to have your 
thoughts on several points. In the arranging of my phy- 
sical expefiments, it is, I find, of great use to me that I 
have looked latterly down upon the philosophical battle- 
ground oftener than formerly. This moment I received 
your treatise, and shall enjoy the pleasure of reading it in 
the first quiet hour. As soon as you have something 
more certain about the subscription to the Horen, pray 
write it to me. Farewell. 

Weimar, 25th Nov., 1795. 



I HEREWITH send your treatise back, with many thanks. 
As this theory treats me so well, nothing is more natural 
than that I should approve of its principles, and that the 
conclusions to which they lead should appear to me just. 
I should, however, have now more distrust in regard to it, 
had I not at first been myself in a hostile state of mind 



towards your views. For it is not unknown to you, that, 
from a too great partiality for ancient poetry, I have often 
been unjust to modern. Now, for the first time, through 
your doctrine, can I obtain harmony with myself, as I can 
no longer revile that which an irresistible impulse forced 
me, under certain conditions, to produce, and it is a very 
agreeable feeling not to be entirely dissatisfied with one- 
self and one's contemporaries. 

I have, in these last days, sat to work at the Novel 
again, and have every cause to keep to it. The demands 
which, through the first volumes, the reader is entitled to 
make, are really, in proportion to the matter and form, 
immense. One seldom sees how much one owes, until 
one comes to settle up accounts and pay off. But I am in 
good spirits. Everything depends upon this — that I make 
the most of my time, and miss no propitious mood. Fare- 

Weimar, 2üth Nov., 1795. 



Jkna, 29ih Nov., 1795. 

The letter of Prince August has entertained me : it 
contains, particularly for a Prince, much fine humor. 

Could we not, through the Prince, obtain, in order to 
translate it for the Horcn, Diderot's tale La Rcligieuse, 
which is to be found in the written Journal, and which, as 
far as I know, has not yet been translated ? From the 
same Journal is taken also Jacques le Fataliste, and it has 
been published, translated by linger, in Berlin. 

If it can be done, I would like to become a member of 
the Weimar Journal Society, and can furnish three jour- 
nals, either 



Clio, or 

Posselt's European Annals, or 

If they have these journals already, and would not 
wish to countermand them, I will pay the common con- 
tribution in money. 

It here occurs to me that I owe a half Carolin to Mr. 

us (I don't know the first syllables of his name), who 

engraved for me the seal for the Hoven. Will you be so 
good as to advance this to him for me ? 

The St. Preface is execrable. Such a consequential 
shallowness, a presumptuous impotence, and an affected, 
evidently affected, piety — even in a Preface to Plato to 
praise Jesus Christ ! 

It is an eternity since I heard from Jacobi, although, out 
of politeness, he should have written to me about some 
small Poems I sent him, and sent him at his request. 

If you happen not to have despatched my treatise by 
to-day's post, have the goodness to send it by Tuesday, 
that is, if you do not wish to keep it longer. I wish to 
send it to Humboldt. I am full of curiosity about your 
opinion of it. When I now look back, and note how far 
I have ventured here, without leader, merely with the 
help of the principles which flow from the body of my 
system, I am greatly rejoiced at the fertility of these prin- 
ciples, and promise myself much more from them for the 

The remainder of the treatise, which is just finished, 
and which treats of the Idyls, is not yet copied. You 
will receive it to-morrow, or the day after. In January, 
there will be a supplement to the treatise, under the title, 
on Insipidity and Overstraining (the two rocks of the nalce 



and the sentimental). In this I have a mind to start a 
hare-hunt in our literature, and to regale especially some 
good friends, such as Nicolai and company. Farewell. 



On the accompanying note you have information con- 
cerning the Journals : you have now only to make the 
necessary arrangements with the carriers, and you will 
receive them regularly. 

Here are also my Elegies ; I hope that you will be 
satisfied with them ; I have worked a good deal at them 
lately : but one seldom gets done with one's own things, 
and with translations never. If you find anything to re- 
mark upon, communicate it to me. It were well if these 
new ones could appear together ; they do not make, all of 
them, more than a sheet and a half : the others shall ar- 
rive by degrees. 

What provision have you for the next quarter, and what 
do you hear of the new subscriptioi*? 

If you have got back the treatise on the Sentimental 
Poets, I should like to read it once more ; I have still 
some doubts about the conclusion, and when the spirit 
warms one, one should at least not conceal it. As the 
whole is so long and broad, it seems to me, on closer re- 
flection, to terminate too narrowly and too much in a 
point, and, as this point happens to come exactly betwee' 
me and an old friend, it makes me a little anxious. But, 
of this, orally. No more to-day but farewell. 

Weimar, 9th December, 1795. 




Jena, 15th Dec, 1795. 

My treatise on the Sentimental Poets, which I had 
twice copied, was sent to the press three weeks ago, but 
you need have no anxiety about the conckision. You 
have only read what was then ready ; to that, however, 
have been added eight more pages, relating to the Idyls, 
with which the treatise ends for the twelfth number. The 
real conclusion, however, will be in the first number of 
the New Year. You and Mr. W., therefore, do not fall 
at the end, and, I think, that when the treatise shall be 
fairly concluded, the total impression, and the interest of 
the subject, will prevent every private reference. Fare- 
well . 



Many thanks for the honorary,* for which here is a 
receipt. It seems, that, as in the partition of the Earth, 
we poets were cut off very short, an important privilege 
was granted us, namely, that we should be paid for our 

The Poem to which I here allude, meets with great 
admiration, and people are very curious to know who 
wrote it. 

For the rest, at present the Dogspostdays \die Hunds- 
postage] is the work on which our refined public bestows 
its surplus of admiration. 

If the treatise does not end just with that ticklish note, 

* Referring to a fee for his Epigrams published in the Almanac, 
which S. had sent nim! 



the effect of the latter will thereby be diminished, and we 
mnst wait to see what comes of it. 

Have you seen the accompanying Hymn with Avhich 
yon have been honored ? I have, at any rate, had it co- 
pied. One perceives, too, from this, that one mnst in litera- 
ture imitate the sower, who only sowed, without regarding, 
where his seed fell. 

Of the notes to the Elegies, we will make as much use 
as the time will permit, in so extraordinary a language' 
as the German, there is always something left to desire. 

For the January number I would be glad to work up 
something, but the Novel, to my comfort, now takes up all 
my time. It was necessary that this last volume should 
make itself, or it would never have been got through with, 
and now I am strongly urged on to the finishing of it, and 
the so long collected and arranged pile begins at last to 

I would advise that the de Stael essay be not postponed 
beyond February, because, at Easter, a translation will 
probably be published. The French copies are spreading 
in Germany. 

Perhaps, by March, I can have ready the tale, of which 
I gave you a sketch, and take the opportunity of a short 
introduction to it to get over the explanation of the first. 
That this does not miss its aim, you will learn from the 
accompanying letter from the Prince. 

It were very well if we could make use of the Re- 
ligieuse for the Horen. You can best obtain permission 
to do so through Herder ; I would prefer not to ask for it, 
because, on the occasion, my travesty of the Claron story 
might be thrown up to me. 

IlHand will not come so soon ; they are obliged by the 



Conquerors to play in Manheim. About Easter he hopes 
to come. 

I am getting ready to be able to visit you at New Year, 
for I long much to go through with you the whole circle 
of your theatrical labors, and thereby strengthen myself 
for the labors I have before me. I value therefore the 
more your principles and directions, because they insure 
to me our friendly relation, and promise an increasing 
concordance ; for, unfortunately, it is oftener opinions on 
things, than things themselves, whereby men are sepa- 
rated, of which we have daily in Weimar the most melan- 
choly examples. 

Farewell, and greet your dear Avife for me. Has any- 
thing been done at the drawing. 

Weimar, 15th Dec, 1795. 



Jena, ITth December, 1795. 

Ho^v I envy you your present poetical mood, which 
permits you to live in the midst of your Novel ! I have 
not for a long while felt so prosaic as in these last days, 
and it is high time that I shut up for a while the philoso- 
phical booth. My heart thirsts for something with a 

It is capital that the acute Prince here is so completely 
at fault about the mystical meaning of the Tale. I hope 
you will let him lie under his delusion for a while ; and, 
indeed, were you not to do so, he would not believe you 
out of your own mouth were you to tell him he was on the 
wrong scent. 

That the Hundspostagc is at present all the rage in 



Weimar, is to me pliysiologically remarkable ; for one 
would never dream that the same taste could bear such 
perfectly heterogeneous things as this production and 
Clara du Plcsis. Such an instance of want of character 
in a whole community I never met with. 

The little Poem you were so kind to have copied for 
me, was sent to me by its author last summer in manu- 
script. I am glad that here and there one sees something 
glow and blossom ; and a public manifestation of this kind 
is particularly agreeable to me just now, because it will 
greatly annoy my adversaries. 

Cotta, who wrote to me a few days since, can give me 
no information yet about the new subscription. I how- 
ever refer favorably from the fact that no orders have been 
yet received for discontinuing. 

I will endeavor to engage Herder to translate La Reli- 
gieuse. The de Stael essay I shall not defer later than 
February. A translation in the first number, in which 
there is already a poetical one, would have laid us open to 
the attacks of the gentlemen. 

Farewell. My wife thanks you for your remembrance. 
Not much has been yet done at the drawing. 



I have made as much use as possible of your kind and 
judicious remarks on the Elegies, which I here send back : 
in this way it is possible to bring this kind of works constant- 
ly nearer to perfection. 

I have in these last days been reading and studying 
Lawrence Stark.* I cannot say that I have been much 

A celebrated novel by Engel. 



edified by it. At first there is an air about it which capti- 
vates one, but in the sequel it is found lamentably wanting. 

On the other hand, I have found the novels of Cervantes 
a real pleasure, as well of entertainment as of instruction. 
How delightful it is when one can recognize as excellent 
that which is generally so recognized, and how much 
is one furthered on one's way when one meets with works 
which are constructed on those very principles by which 
— according to the measure of our ability and range — we 
ourselves are governed ! 

Farewell. More soon. 

Weimar, Dec. 17, 1795. 



I WAIT with longing for the new year, and am striving 
to get off my hands a variety of little matters in order to be 
able to visit you again for a short time without hindrance. 
I hope that I may find you well and in poetical activity, 
for after all that is the finest condition that it is given man 
to enjoy. My Novel shall not now rest until it shall have 
worked itself to its end, at which I am much rejoiced, for 
amid all kinds of occupations and distractions it goes 
steadily forward, 

I have a variety of things to communicate. Here, for 
instance, I send you an explanation of the dramatic char- 
acters of the tale by friend Charlotte. Do send me 
another explanation that I may give it to her in return. 

The idea which has lately occurred to me of writing 
epigrams upon all the periodical works, each in a distich, 
like the Xenia of Martial, we must cultivate, and insert a 
collection of them in your Almanac of the Muses for the 




next year. We must write a great many, and then pick 
out the best. Here are a couple as a sample. 

I have obtained within a few days P. Caslel's work, 
Optique des Couleurs, 1740 : the lively Frenchman gives 
me great satisfaction. I can hereafter have whole passa- 
ges printed from it, and prove to the multitude that the true 
nature of the subject was publicly known in France in 
1739, but was suppressed. 

I have hastily added some variations to the explanation : 
if you can still increase them, we may expect from these 
interpretations an endless confusion. 

The Xenia I will send soon. 

Dec. 33, 1795. 


N. B. The variations underscored with red are mine, 

Jena, Dec. 25, 1795. 

My best thanks for the Elegies. I think there is now 
nothing in them which can give occasion to the scribblers 
to be insensible to the beautiful spirit of the w^hole on 
account of trivial defects. 

Lawrence Stark, Humboldt wrote me, was originally 
intended for a comedy, and then accidentally thrown into 
the narrative form. It has the merit of having a light tone, 
but it is rather the lightness of the hollow than of the beau- 
tiful. "When minds like E.'s* wish to be true and naif 
they run such danger of being flat. But, most divine flat- 
ness ! that is the very thing which recommends them. 

Have you seen the admirable pictures of the Seiferdorfer 
Valley with Becker's (of Dresden) descriptions 1 As so 

* Etstckl, the author of Lawrei c ^ Stark. 



great a lover of ornamental gardens and of sentimental 
productions I recommend this work to you. It merits, 
together with Rachnitz's work, to be worthily mentioned 
in the Horen. 

Herder refers me back again to you about la Religieuse 
of Diderot : he is moreover of opinion, that either it has 
been already translated, or that it will appear next Easter 
with other tales of Diderot. According to this it would 
not be a safe undertaking for us. 

Heaven prolong for you the happy mood, in order to 
finish the Novel.* I look for the denouement with intense 
expectation, and shall have a rare enjoyment in studying 
the whole. 

The success of my little poem, the Partition of the 
Earth, must be put to your account, for I have already 
heard from many that it is ascribed to you. On the other 
hand, your paper on Literary Sansculottism has been 
attributed to me. 

We send you our best wishes for Christmas. Would 
that you could pass it here with us ! Farewell. 



29ih December, 1795. 

The thought about the Xenia is capital and must be car- 
ried into effect. Those you s^nt me to-day diverted me 
much, particularly the gods and goddesses. Such titles 
help a happy idea. If, however, we wish to complete the 
hundred, we shall have to fall foul of individual works ; 
and what rich material there is for us ! If we do not alto- 

* Wilhelm Meister. 



gether spare ourselves, we may lay hold of both the holy 
and the profane. What matter have we not in the Stol- 
berg brotherhood, Räcknitz, Ramdohr, the metaphysical 
world with its I's and not I's, friend Nicolai, our sworn 
foe, the Leipsig tavern of taste, Thümmel, Goeschen as 
his master of horse, and others of the same stamp ! 

Woltmann's Tragedy is wretched and in no respect 
available ; a thing without character, without probability, 
without naturalness. More tolerable is the Operette, but 
even it is only tolerable by the side of the tragedy. Have 
you read a work on Zoonomy by Brandis ? In it your 
work on the Metamorphosis is treated with great respect. 
But it is laughable that, because your name is on the title- 
page, and you have written novels and tragedies, one must 
of course be reminded thereof. " A new proof," thinks 
the author, "how favorable poetical genius is to scientific 

I look forward to your approaching visit here with no 
little pleasure. We will once more have a thorough 
shaking up of everything. You wont fail to bring your 
" knitting," that is, the Novel, with you ? And then we will 
take care that there be, nulla dies sine epigrammate. 

You speak of a great dearth in the theatrical world. 
Has it never occurred to you to try a piece of Terence for 
the stage 1 Thirty years ago a man by the name of Ro- 
manus worked up very well the Adelplii, at least according 
to Lessing's testimony. For some time past I have been; 
looking again into the old Latins, and Terence was the 
I first that came into my hands. I am translating extempo- 
raneously to my wife the Adelphi, and the great interest we 
take in it leads me to expect a good result. This very 



piece possesses a noble truth and reality, lively action, 
well marked characters, and throughout an agreeable hu- 

The theatrical roll contains a vast mass of names and 
very little matter. For my part I have done very well : 
but in what company does one behold oneself! To you 
is magnanimously attributed a Julius C(Bsar, for the which 
you will remain debtor to the public. 

But wherein does not friend P. write 1 Farewell. 
My wife greets you. 



Productions like those I send herewith you ought not 
to remain ignorant of: probably they have not yet reached 
you. I beg you to send me back soon the Theatrical Cal- 

With a hundred Xenia, like the inclosed dozen, we 
could gain favor with the public as well as with our col- 

It is well that the reviewing of the poetical portion of 
the Horen has fallen into the hands of a man of the new 
generation : with the old we shall never harmonize. Per- 
haps I shall read them with you, for, if it be possible, I 
shall leave this on the third of January. 

It is very agreeable to me that we are confounded 
together in our labors : it shows that we are freeing our- 
selves more and more of mannerism and are attaining to 
what is universally good. And then we must consider 
what a beautiful breadth we can cover if we hold fast with 
one hand and with the other reach out as far as nature has 
permitted us to reach. 



Would that Woltmann's tragedy were presentable ! I 
would bring it out immediately. Every one wishes to 
write, and does write, and yet we have on the stage the 
bitterest dearth. 

Farewell. I strive to keep myself clear of everything 
that could detain and distract me in order again to pass 
some profitable time near you. 

Weimar, 23th Dec, 1795. 




You have surprised me very agreeably with the rich 
store of Xenia w^hich you have sent. Those on Newton 
will, from the subject, reveal you as their author ; but, on 
a learned controversial matter, which touches not the 
living, this is of no consequence. Those which are 
marked have pleased us most. 

Could you not honor our soi-disant friend Reichardt 
with some Xenia? I have just been reading a review of 
the Hoven in his Germany, a journal published by Unger, 
wherein he has taken gross liberties with the Conversa- 
tions and also other papers. Long extracts are given from 
the treatises of Fichte and Woltmann, and both are repre- 
sented as masterly. The fifth piece (the worst of all) is 
pronounced the most interesting. Voss's Poems and the 
Rodian Genius of Humboldt are much extolled, and more 
in the same vein. It is written throughout with an ill- 
concealed bitterness. There is a long criticism (but of 
what character I have not read) of Heinse's musical novel, 
as the most important work of modern German literature. 

Reichardt, who thus attacks us without any ground, 



and so unsparingly, must be hit liard in tlie Horen like- 

Here are some more arrows into the flesh of our col- 
leagues. Choose among them those which please you. 
Farewell. My wife sends her regards. 



* 22(1 January, 1796. 

Here is a small parcel of epigrams. Those you don't 
like fail not to leave out. These little jests are slower 
work than one would think : one has not the benefit, as in 
a longer production, of a continuity of thoughts and feel- 
ings. They will not surrender their original right as 
happy thoughts. I doubt, therefore, whether I shall out- 
strip you so much as you expect. However, if I don't get 
on with them, I must set myself down to larger matters, 
and seize the epigrams as they come up. But no post- 
day shall be empty, so that in four or five months we shall 
have made good progress. 

Your epigrams in the Almanac have great success. Of 
this I have constantly new manifestations, and from people 
of whose judgment one need not be ashamed. That the 
Almanac makes its way in Weimar, by the side of the 
Emigrants and the Dogspostdays, is to me very consola- 
tory intelligence. 

May I trouble you with a small commission ? I want 
sixty -three ells of handsome green hangings, and sixty-two 
ells of border, which I leave entirely to your taste and 
theory of colors. Could you send Mr. Gerning after it, 



and give the order so that I may have it in six or eight 
days ? 

Farewell.* My wife greets you. 


To a certain Moral Poet. 
Yes, man is a poor wretched wight, I know : but I wished 
To forget it, and went — ! how I rue it — to thee. 

The Kantian, 

Shall not a hollow skull Kantish phrases contain ? 
Did' St thou never in a hollow nut see devices ? 


For the next few days I shall lead a bustling life. To- 
day the Duke of Darmstadt and family arrive ; to-morrow 
dinner, concert, supper, and ball, at Court. Monday, Don 
Juan. The rest of the week will be occupied with re- 
hearsals, for on the 30th we give the Advocates of Iffland, 
and on the 2d, the new opera. After that, I will gather 
myself up as soon as possible, and see what I can do. 
Through this crowd of strange forms the eighth bookf 
makes itself visible to me often, and I hope with the 
first opportunity to finish it. 

In the last Epigrams you sent me there is a delightful 
humor, and I shall therefore have them all copied. Those 
which will not be able to hold their places in this set, will 
separate naturally and form a new body. 

Farewell, and enjoy the fine weather. 

23d January, 1796. 


* The German is Lehen Sie recht wohl, which, literally rendered, 
would be Fare you right well. 
t Of Wilhelm Meister. 




Jena, 24th January, 1796 . 

For an author who is occupied with the catastrophe of 
a novel, with a thousand epigrams and two extensive nar- 
ratives from Italy and China, you have for the coming ten 
days a very tolerable quantity of distractions. But what 
time takes from you, it returns to you again in material, 
and in the end you are further advanced than I am, who 
have to suck my subjects out of my nails. 

Woltmann was yesterday three whole hours alone with 
me, and I managed so well that not a syllable was spoken 
of the two dramatic pieces. He was very civil, and liberal 
of praise of your works and mine, — without, however, 
awakening in me a spark of commiseration on account of 
his play. 

Farewell Here are some more Xenia, in order that 
the custom be not departed from. 



The first Act is surmounted ! A show for the ball of 
yesterday, which I helped to arrange. All went off well, 
although the hall was full to overflowing. As everybody 
now speaks only in distichs, even the Turkish Count had 
to present his compliment to the Grand Duchess in this 
form of verse, as you will see by the accompanying paper. 
Another party had gotten up a procession of mixt maskers, 
among whom a couple of jack-o-lanterns were admirable. 
They were very neatly made, and as they turned and 
whisked about, they scattered gold-leaf and verses. 

The distichs increase daily : they now amount to nearly 
two hundred. I send you the last number of the Journal 




of Fashion, on account of the treatise, page 18, on the 
Xenia. Little does the author think that there is one in 
store for him for the next year. What poverty and want 
of tact these people exhibit ! To give as specimens only 
two of such poems, and these so vilely translated ! It is 
as if everything genial fled from this fire-colored binding. 

I have obtained from Göttingen the treatise of Cellini on 
the work of goldsmiths and sculptors. As I am obliged to 
read and make extracts from it quickly, the little Biography 
will probably be thereby furthered. Farewell. My 
greeting to your dear wife. 

I had nearly forgotten the best I had to say to you. 
I have received from Meyer a beautiful and excellent let- 
ter, which exhibits very distinctly his situation. Between 
his irrepressible disposition to do everything thoroughly, 
and at the same time with the minutest finish, and the im- 
mense quantity of subjects which he describes and criti- 
cises, together with the attractions of others that he would 
like to copy, he is in great straits. He asks me for advice, 
and I shall refer him back to his own genius. 

In a letter to the Duchess Dowager there is an amusing 
passage on those artists who at present represent Kantish 
ideas in allegoric pictures. If it is anything more than 
persiflage, we have the oddest phenomenon that can be 
visible before the doomsday of art. 

From your letter I learn for the first time that the 
monthly journals, Germany and France, have an editor. 
We have long known this false friend, and have been 
indulgent towards his general ill-conduct only because he 
paid regularly his particular tribute. So soon, however, 
as he gives indications of refusing this, we wdll send him 
a Bashaw with three burning fox-tails. A dozen distichs 



are already appropriated to him, which will reach you, 
God willing, on Wednesday. In the meantime, once 
more, farewell. 

Weimar, 30th January, 1795. 



31st January, 1796, 

I CONGRATULATE you on the success of ihefete : it must 
have been a very pretty spectacle. The jack-o'-lanterns 
diverted me particularly. 

Do bring Meyer's letters with you when you come over 
here. I am curious to see how by degrees the process of 
precipitation will take place in him, and his mind become 
clarified. As the account of the Kantish figures is only 
given in the letter to the Duchess, it is to be hoped that it 
is only a joke : so precious a piece of news he would no 
doubt have announced to you more distinctly. 

You may rest assured that Reichardt is the editor of the 
journal Germany, and also that he (or the reviewer, which 
to us is all the same) takes great liberties with the Con- 
versations, although he takes other opportunities in the 
same review to praise you with puffed cheeks. The pro- 
duction is indescribably wretched. Heinse's book, the 
notice of which I have since examined more closely, is 
strongly condemned, of which I am heartily sorry, as 
there is one folly the less to note down. 

In the meanwhile a variety of ideas for our Xenia have 
disclosed themselves in ifte, which, however, are not yet 
quite ripe. 

I think that if you come towards the end of this week, 
you will find a hundred or more ready. We must harass 
these good people in every allowable form, and even the 



poetic interest requires a great variety within the limits of 
one strict law not to exceed a distich. Within a few days 
I have taken Homer in hand, and in the judgment he 
passes upon suitors I have discovered a glorious mine 
of parodies, which are already in part executed ; some 
also I draw from the art of necromancy, wherewith to sting 
deceased authors, and here and there the living likewise. 
Reflect upon an introduction of Newton in the lower 
world : we must here also interlace our works into each 

In the end I thind we shall be able to make a comedy 
of epigrams. What think you ? 

My wife sends her best greetings to you. Do con\e as 
soon as you can. 



The first transcript of the Xenia is at last finished, and 
I will send it immediately, as I cannot come to Jena before 
the 14th. They look very well together : it was, how- 
ever, advisable to have a poetical vein flow through the 
whole collection. My last ones are, as you will find, very 
prosaic, which, seeing th principle of their composition, 
cannot well be otherwise. 

I shall probably soon send you the seventh book of my 
Novel. I am now only working it up clean out of the 
first form in which I dictated it. What further will be to 
do on it will be seen when the eighth book shall be as far 
advanced as this, and we shall have thoroughly discussed 
the whole. 

Within a few days I have received from Güttingen the 
work of Cellini, on the Mechanical, in various Arts. It is] 



excellently written, and the Preface as well as the work 
itself gives a fine insight into that extraordinary man. I 
have, therefore, gone to work again on his Life ; but the 
difficulties of the treatment remain still the same. I will 
just begin by translating some interesting passages, and 
then see what further can be done. For the rest, accord- 
ing to my matter-of-fact mode of executing a Biography, 
the details are all in all ; especially in the case of a pri- 
vate individual, where there are no results, the breadth and 
width of which would at any rate make an imposing show, 
and also in the case of an Artist, whose works — the per- 
manent effects of his being, are not before our eyes. 
Nevertheless, I shall, perhaps, have a good quantity pre- 
pared before I go to see you, and then it will be more easy 
to determine what is to be done. 

The first representation of the new Opera went off 
happily, and we have the approbation of the multitude ; 
and really as a whole it makes a very pretty effect. The 
music is not deep, but agreeable ; the dresses and decora- 
tions told very well. In a day or two I will send you the 
book, in order that you may see what a strange and ultra- 
German direction the stage is taking. Farewell, and 
greet your dear wife from me. My present way of life 
is too bustling and material even for the liveliest realist, 
and I hope soon to be out of it, and get into port with you. 

Weimar, 4th February, 1796. 



Jena, 5th February, 1796. 

It does one's heart good to see how the collection of 
epigrams grows under our hands. I was glad to find 
several political ones among the new batch ; for as we 



shall certainly be confiscated in all unsafe regions, I don't 
see why we should not deserve it on this account also. 
You will find from forty to forty-two new ones by me : I 
keep back about eighty which belong together, and which 
are not yet quite ready. Reichardt is well taken care 
of, but he must be still better. He must be assailed as a 
musician, for he is there also not quite sound, and it is 
reasonable that he be pursued into his last hold, since he 
made war upon us on our legitimate territory. 

I am very glad to hear that you propose to make a be- 
ginning on Cellini with detached passages. That is the 
best mode for you to get under way ; for where the subject 
admits of it, I hold it to be always better not to begin with 
the beginning, which is always the most difficult and the 

most barren. 


At the prospect of some more of Meister, I rejoice as 
at a feast. Before we talk over the whole, I too must 
familiarize myself more with what is finished. 

Koerner* writes me that he hopes to come at the end of 
May, and to spend a fortnight here, at which I am much 
rejoiced. I am sure that you also will be pleased at his 
stay here. As Schlegel is coming this spring, and Funk 
will probably pass a month here, I shall have a gay time 
of it. Farewell. My wife's best greetings. 



Would that you were not so much in want of the pro- 
mised Elegies ! for I can't get done with them. For 
eight days past I have been engaged about them and in 

* The father, I believe, of the poet. 



consultation with Knebel : thus has the MS. got foul 
again, and will have to be re-copied. If a delay of eight 
days were possible, they should then be in good trim. I 
am sorely pressed still, by the Carnival, and in conse- 
quence of a fresh arrival of foreign Princes, our theatri- 
cal and other entertainments are disjointed and accumu- 

As I have nothing to furnish for the third number, I have 
been looking through my old papers, and have found 
among them some odd things, but mostly of a personal or 
ephemeral character, and therefore not available. To 
show at least how good my will is, I send herewith a very 
subjective journey in Switzerland. Determine yourself 
how much of it can be used : perhaps were a tale of pas- 
sion invented to tack to it, it would do. This region has 
been a hundred times visited and described, still people 
continue to visit it and to read the descriptions of it. Tell 
me what you think. Of course whatever points out the 
individuals must be expunged. 

Farewell. I look forward with longing to the moment 
when I shall see you again. 

Weimar, 12th February, 1796. 



Jena, 18th March, 1796. 

Since your absence, I have been very tolerable, and 
shall be quite satisfied if I continue so during my visit to 
Weimar. I have been meditating on my Wallenstein, 
but have otherwise done no work. I hope yet to bring 
to light a few Xenia before the period of the note-worthy 

* A playful reference apparently to their meeting in Weimar. 



The preparations for so intricate a work as a Drama is 
set the mind in motion in a very extraordinary manner 
Even the very first operation, the seeking of a certain 
method in the matter, in order that one's blows be not 
aimless, is no trifle, I am now upon the skeleton, and 
find that in the dramatic structure as well as in the human 
everything depends upon this. I should like to know how 
you go to work in such cases. With me the conception 
has at first no decided or distinct body : this forms itself 
only later. A certain musical mood arises first in my 
mind, and only after this follows the poetical idea. 

According to a letter from C, Herder was to have been 
here to-day. I have, however, seen nothing of him. 

Farewell. Here is Cellini, who was forgotten the day 
before yesterday. My wife greets you. 



Jena, 2l3t April, 1796. 

We arrived here safely yesterday, but with the half o 
my soul I am still in Weimar. What good effect both 
physically and morally my visit there has had, I feel 
already, and no doubt it will show itself in deed and 
result. ■ 

Farewell. My wife's best regards. On Monday even 
ing, intoxicated with the representation of Egmont, w 
shall see each other again. 



My hearty congratulations for the new arrival. Ma 
you live to have much joy in your two boys ! Give m 
truest greetings to your dear wife. 



If possible, I will come next Saturday to visit you. 
About the Novel we shall be obliged now to confer orally ; 
also about the Xenia and several other matters which I 
have in my mind. Touching the former, the chief ques- 
tion will be, where the Apprenticeship properly ends, and 
in how far there is a purpose to make the personages re- 
appear at a future period. Your letter, received to-day, 
hints at a continuation of the work, which accords with 
my o\vn view and inclination ; but of that orally. What 
is necessary for the completion of the past, must be done, 
and the future must be indicated ; but indentations must be 
left, which, as well as the general plan, point to a continu- 
ation : on this point I wish to have a full talk with you. 
^ Send me nothing by the carrier-women, and retain the 
manuscript. I w411 bring with me the Xenia, Cellini, and 

j perhaps other things. Greet Schlegel and his wife : I 
am glad that I shall this time see them both. 

I have read with great interest Herder's two new vol- 

I umes. The seventh particularly, seems to me admirably 
conceived, developed and written. The eighth, although 
containing so much that is excellent, does not make one 
feel right, nor did the author feel right when he wrote it. 

i A certain reservedness, a certain circumspectness, a 

i twisting and turning, a niggardly dealing out of praise and 
blame, makes what he says of German Literature par- 
ticularly, very meager. It may be owing to my mood at 
the time, but it seems to me, that, as well in treating of 

• writings as of actions, unless one speaks with a loving 
sympathy, a certain partial enthusiasm, the result is so 
defective as to have very little value. Pleasure, delight, 

; sympathy in things, is all that is real, and that reproduces 
reality : all else is empty and in vain. 



Farewell, and enjoy in your peaceful valley the fine 
weather, at least out of the window. 

Weimar, 14th June, 1796. 



Jena, 17th June, 1796. 

I POSTPONE the answers to your welcome letter till 
Monday, and write this to tell you that this evening we 
expect Voss, who has already announced himself by a 
note. He can only remain one day, leaves us again early 
on Sunday, and does not go to Weimar. 

He would like very much to meet you. It rests there- 
fore with you, whether you will give him this pleasure, 
whereto we heartily invite you. He comes from Gibich- 
enstein and probably brings Reichardt with him — a scene 
at the prospect of which I almost rejoiced. Farewell. 


It is nearly 10 o'clock at night, and Voss is not yet 
come ; but I doubt not that he will. 


I AM very sorry that T shall not see Voss. One should 
by no means neglect to renew agreeable relations from 
time to time by personal intercourse. Unfortunately, I 
dare not just now suffer my mind to be diverted for a mo- 
ment from my work : the Novel is in so prosperous a way 
that if it goes on at this rate, you will in eight days 
receive the eighth book, and then there were concluded 
a singular epoch under singular aspects. 

Greet Voss very sincerely, and renew also in my name 
a relation, which from its nature can ahvays improve^ 



Should another guest* be present, which I hope not, I 
send him the following offering : 

Come thou from Gibichenstein or from Malepartus ! 

Thou art still no fox, thou 'rt only half bear and half wolf 

Farewell : greet your wife and Schlegel. I have much 
to say to you, and if I have good luck, I will put it soon 
into such forms that you will be able to use it for the 
Horen and Almanac. Adieu, 

Weimar, 18th June, 1796. 


I was near forgetting to tell you that Richter is here. 
He is going to visit you with Knebel, and I am sure you 
will be pleased with him. 


Jena, 18lh June, 1796. 

Yoss is not yet here, at least I have as yet seen nothing 
of him. As I much doubt whether you will come, I will 
send off this letter, having a good opportunity. 

The Idyl affected me as fully, nay more fully at the 

second reading than at the first. It is undoubtedly one of 

the most beautiful of your productions, such simplicity has 

it united with an unfathomable depth of sensibility. * 

Herder's book made on me very much the impression it 
did on you, except that with this, as mostly with his writ- 
ings, I lose always more of what I thought I possessed 
than I gain in new realities. By aiming ever to bind to- 
gether and unite what others separate, he has the effect of 
disturbing rather than calming me. Hi* irreconcilable 
hostility to rhyme is carried, I think, much too far, and 

Meaning Reichardt. 



what he adduces against it, seems to me altogether insuf- 
ficient. Be the origin of rhyme ever so common and un- 
poetical, one must still look to the impression it makes, 
and this is not to be reasoned away by any argument. 

In his confessions about German literature, I am dis- 
pleased not only with his coldness for what is good, but 
also with his strange tolerance for what is bad. He 
speaks with the same respect of a Nicolai, an Eschen- 
burg, and others of that class, as of the most important 
authors ; and in an extraordinary manner he throws the 
Stolbergs and myself, Kosegarten, and I don't know how 
many others, all into the same pot. His veneration for 
Kleist, Gerstensberg and Gessner, and generally for all 
who are dead and mouldered, is equal to his coldness to- 
wards the living. # # # # * 

Farewell. My wife's best greetings to you. Her 
health is much the same. 



I HAVE received your dear and valued letters, together 
with the biscuit, and as to-day my task at the Novel is 
finished early, I will dictate this letter in advance for to- 
morrow . 

The eighth Book continues to make uninterrupted pro- 
gress. And when one reflects on the concurring circum- 
stances whereby what was almost impossible has been 
brought about in a perfectly natural way, one might almost 
become supersütious. So much is certain, that the long 
habit of availing myself at the moment of resources, ac- 
cidental events, moods, and whatever of agreeable or 
disagreeable comes over one, stands me now in good 



stead. Nevertheless, my hope to be able to send it to you 
next Saturday, seems to have been over-hasty. 

Your poem, the Complaint of Ceres, has brought to my 
mind again various attempts I had made to verify by 
scientific proofs the idea you have taken up and handled 
so favorably. Some of the experiments were unexpect- 
edly successful, and, as I foresee that during these fine 
summer months I shall be able to remain at home some 
time, I have already made arrangements for raising a 
number of plants in the dark, and will then compare the 
results with what is already known. 

That Voss did not come, I don't like in him, particular- 
ly as you and he are not yet personally acquainted, as I 
learn from your letter. This is a kind of neglect and in- 
attention, such as most of us when young will be guilty 
of ; against which, however, one should as much as possi- 
ble guard oneself, when one has come to knovv' how to 
value men. Probably, however, Reichardt prevented 
him from coming ; for it is evident enough that R. cannot 

be satisfied with his position in regard to us. 


I am glad that on a closer inspection the Idyl holds its 
own. For the jealousy at the end, I have two reasons. 
One from Nature ; because every unexpected and unde- 
served good fortune in love has always at its heels the fear 
of deprivation : and one from Art ; because the Idyl has 
throughout a pathetic movement, and therefore the pas- 
sionate character must increase in strength till towards the 
conclusion, when, by the parting bow of the poet, the 
poem is led back to the moderate and cheerful. So much 
in justification of the inexplicable instinct through which 
such things are produced. 



Richter is so complicated a being, that I cannot take the 
time to tell you what I think of him. You must and will 
see him, and then we will discuss him together. Here 
he shares the same fate as his works : now he is rated 
too high, and now too low, and no one knows what to 
make of the singular creature. 

Cellini* goes on bravely, and, as it suits our conveni- 
ence, let us work the iron so long as it keeps warm. Let 
me know when you want another supply of it. 

Herewith I send you a pasquil, which will lead you 
into a quite peculiar world, and which, though very un- 
even, contains some capital jokes, and berates wildly 
enough certain silly people, flatterers, cits and pedants. 
Let no one see it, and send it immediately back to me. 

22d June, 1796. 




You will receive the Novel the beginning of next week, 
through a special carrier, who can bring back the Xenia 
if you have them ready. Read the manuscript first with 
friendly enjoyment, and then critically, and acquit me if 
you can. Many passages ask for more finish, many re- 
quire it, and yet I scarcely know what to do ; for the 
demands which this eighth Book makes upon me are end- 
less, and ought not, according to the nature of the thing, 
to be fully satisfied, although everything should to a cer- 
tain degree be cleared up. My whole trust is in your 
requisitions and your justification. The manuscript has 

* The autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, the translation of 
which, by Goethe, first appeared in the Horen. 


swelled under my hands, and if I had wished to be more 
diffuse, and had poured in more of the water of reasoning, 
I might very conveniently have made out of this last 
volume two : may then its effect in its condensed form be 
better and more enduring ! 

Farewell, and greet your wife from me, and write me 
soon how you both are. 

Weimar, 25th June, 1796. 



27th June. 

Hearty thanks for the package. It finds me in a 
cheerful mood, and I hope to enjoy it with my whole soul. 

The taking leave of a long and important work is 
always more sad than joyful. The stretched faculties 
relapse too quickly, and the mind cannot immediately fix 
iiself on a new subject. The best for you now would be 
to have something to act, and work upon a living material. 

I send by the carrier as many of the Xenia as are 
ready. I have left about eighty, which the carrier-girl 
shall take. To these, which are all friendly, I am just 
now busy in adding some new ones, which a happy mood 
has offered me. Upon the whole, I am in hopes that the 
conclusion will not be bad. Among those herewith sent, 
you will find about a hundred new acquaintances, and will 
miss some old ones. Why these latter have been omitted, 
I will tell you orally. Strike out without forbearance, all 
that are on any account objectionable to you. Our provi- 
sion will bear a severe choice. 

In order to increase the number of the poetical and 
friendly Xenia, I wish I could be the means of making 
you take a range through the best antiques and the beau- 



tiful Italian paintings. These forms live in your soul, an^ 
a propitious mood would furnish you a fine thought on each 
one of them. They are the more suitable material, from 
their individuality. 

Farewell. Rejoice in life and your work. Who in the 
world has more cause for joy ? 

My wife greets you heartily, and is full of curiosity 
about the eighth Book. 



Expect from me to-day nothing definitive as to the 
impression which the eighth Book has made on me. I 
am disturbed and I am satisfied. Longing and repose are 
strangely mingled. Out of the mass of impressions which 
I have received, the most prominent at this moment is the 
image of Mignon. Whether this so strongly interested 
feeling is stronger than it ought to be, I am not yet able 
to say. It may be moreover accidental, for, on opening 
the manuscript, my eye fell first on the song, and this 
affected me so deeply, that I could not afterwards remove 
the impression. 

In the total efiect, this seems to me most worthy of 
note ; that earnestness and sorrow sink everywhere like a 
play of shadows, and over them light humor gets full 
mastery. This is partly explicable from the soft and light 
execution ; I think, however, I discern another reason for 
it in the theatrical and romantic bringing together and 
relative disposition of the incidents. The pathetic calls 
to mind the Novel, all else the truth of life. The most 
painful blows the heart receives are soon forgotten, how- 
ever sharply they be felt, because they were brought about 



by something wonderful, and on this account remind one 
the quicker of Art. Be it as it will, this much is cer- 
tain, that in the Novel earnestness is merely sport, and 
sport the only real earnestness ; that pain is appearance, 
and repose the only reality. 

Frederick, who is so wisely laid up in store, who, at 
the end, by his turbulence, shakes from the tree the ripe 
fruit, and blows together what belongs together, appears at 
the catastrophe just like one who wakes us out of an un- 
easy dream by laughing. The dream flees to the other 
shadows, but its image remains, to impart a higher spirit 
to the present, and a poetical consistency, an infinite 
depth, to the repose and cheerfulness. This depth, 
united with a calm surface, which is generally so peculiar 
to you, is an eminent feature of the present Novel. 

But I will not permit myself to say more to-day, how- 
ever strong my impulse to do so ; for I could not yet give 
you anything mature. If you could send me the first plan 
of the seventh Book, whereof a copy was made for lin- 
ger,* it would be very serviceable to me in following the 
whole in all its details. Although it is still fresh in my 
memory, some fine threads of connection may have es- 
caped me. 

I perceive very clearly how admirably this eighth Book 
connects itself with the sixth, and how much is gained by 
the anticipation of the last. I would not desire any other 
arrangement of the story than just this. We have known 
the family so long before it really appears, that we seem 
to take up an acquaintanceship without a beginning : it is 
a kind of optical stroke of art that has an excellent eflfect. 

* A publisher. 


C n r. R S P O X D E N C E B E T W E E x\ 

What capital uso yon have made of the Grandfather's 
Collection of Pictures : it plays the part of a real per- 
sonage, and is like a living thing. 

But, enough for to-day. On Saturday, I hope to say 
more to you. 

Farewell. Hearty greetings from my wife, who is just 
now deep in the Novel. 

I have not yet written you aught of Hesperus.* I 
found him pretty much as I expected him ; strange, as 
one fallen out of the moon, full of good will, and heartily 
disposed to see things around him, only not with the organ 
with which one sees. However, I had but one conversa- 
tion with him, and can therefore as yet say little of him. 

Jena, 28th June, 1796. 



Heartily rejoiced am I that we have at last reached 
this epoch, and that your first utterance on the eighth 
Book has reached me. Of inestimable value to me is 
your testimony, that on the whole I have produced what 
is conformable to my nature, and also conformable to the 
nature of the work. Herewith I send the seventh Book, 
and shall zealously set to work again on the eighth so 
soon as I shall know more fully your opinions. 

For about eight days my time will be consumed by out- 
ward occupations, which is very well, for in the end, what 
with so much fiction, oneself would turn into a fable. Af- 
ter that, the Xenia, Cellini and the Novel, shall share 
amongst them what is left of July. I have almost adopted 
your mode of life, and scarcely go out of the house. 

* Richter, thus designated after one of his novels. 



I am glad that you have seen Richter : his love of 
truth, and his desire to improv^e himself, interested me in 
him. But the jovial man is a kind of theoretical being, 
and when I reflect on it, I doubt whether Richter will 
ever approach us in practice, although his theoretical 
views would seem to promise it. 

Farewell, and let us write much to one another this 
next month, for what is to be accomplished requires much 

Weimar, 29th June, 1796. 



Jena, 2d July, 1796. 

I HAVE now gone through again, though rapidly, all the 
eight Books of the Novel, whereof the quantity alone is so 
great that it occupied me two days. Properly, therefore, 
I ought not to WTite about it to-day ; for the surprising and 
unparalleled variety that is, in the strictest sense, conceal- 
ed in it, overwhelms me. I acknowledge that, as yet, 
although the continuity of it is clear to my mind, the unity 
is not : I doubt not however in the least that it will be ; 
and, indeed, in Avorks of this class, continuity constitutes 
more than half of the unity. 

As under these circumstances you cannot expect from 
me anything fully satisfactory, and yet desire to have 
something, you must be content with remarks put together 
without method, which, however, will not be entirely 
without value, inasmuch as they will give you my present 
impressions. A worthy and truly ce^iÄefzc estimate of the 
whole work, as a work of art, is a great undertaking. 
The coming four months I shall devote to it entirely, and 



with delight. Meanwhile, I account it the most fortunate 
incident of my existence, that I have lived to see the com- 
pletion of this work ; that this has taken place while my 
faculties are still capable of improvement ; that I can yet 
draw from this pure spring ; and the beautiful relation there 
is between us makes it a kind of religion with me to feel 
towards what is yours as if it were my own, and so to 
purify and elevate my nature that my mind may be a clear 
mirror, and that I may thus deserve, in a higher sense, 
the name of your friend. How strongly have I felt on 
this occasion that the Excellent is a power ; that by selfish 
natures it can be felt only as a power ; and that only where 
there is disinterested love can it be enjoyed. 

I cannot describe to you how deeply the truth, the beau- 
tiful vitality, the simple fulness of this work, has affected 
me. The excitement into which it has thrown my mind 
will subside when I shall have perfectly mastered it, an 
that will be an important crisis in my being. This excite 
ment is the effect of the Beautiful, and only the Beautif 
and proceeds thence, that my intellect is not yet entirel 
in accordance with my feelings. I understand now per 
fectly what you mean when you say that it is strictly th 
Beautiful, the True, that can move you even to tears 
Tranquil and deep, clear, and yet like nature unintelligible 
is this work ; and all, even the most trivial collateral inci 
dent, shows the clearness, the equanimity of the min 
whence it flowed. 

But I cannot yet give fit expression to my impressions 
and shall therefore confine myself to the eighth Book 
How did you succeed in drawing together again so closel 
the large and widely separated circle and scene of actio 
of persons and events ? The work is like a planetary sys 



tern : all is bound together, and the Italian personages, — 
like comets, and as fearfully as these, — unite the system to 
a more remote and a greater one. These personages, 
too, as well as Marianna and Aurelia, run out of the sys- 
tem, and separate themselves from it as existences foreign 
to it, after they have served only to give to it a poetical 
movement. How beautifully conceived it is, to derive the 
practically monstrous, the fearfully pathetic, in the fate of 
Mignon and the Harper, from the theoretically monstrous, 
from the abortions of the understanding, so that nothing is 
thereby laid to the charge of pure and healthy Na- 
ture ! Superstition alone gives birth to the horrid fates 
that pursue Mignon and the Harper. Even Aurelia is 
ruined only through her masculine character, her unnatu- 

Wilhelm's aberration to Teresa is admirably conceived, 
originated, executed, and still more admirably turned to 
account. Many a reader will be at first alarmed at it, for 
I anticipate few well-wishers to Teresa ; the more per- 
fectly do you rescue him from his disquietude. I cannot 
conceive how this false relation could have been dissolved 
more tenderly, delicately and nobly. How the Richard- 
sons and others would have delighted to make a scene out 
• of it, and in the display of delicate sentiments have been 
downright indelicate ! I have only one little doubt in con- 
nection with it : Teresa's bold and determined opposition 
to the party that wishes to rob her of her lover, even 
though the possibility is thereby re-opened to her of pos- 
sessing Lothario, is perfectly natural and excellent ; also, 
that Wilhelm manifests a deep indignation and a certain 
pain at the vexations of men and of fate, I think well- 
founded ; — only, it seems to me, he should complain less 



of the loss of what had already begun to cease being a 
piece of good fortune for him. By the side of Natalia, it 
seems to me, his re-acquired liberty ought to be a higher 
good than he shows. I feel fully the complicated nature 
of this situation, and what delicacy demanded, but on the 
other hand it olTends in some degree the delicacy due to 
Natalia that he is still inclined, having obtained her, to 
lament the loss of a Teresa. 

What I particularly admire in the concatenation of the 
incidents, is the skilful use you have made of the false 
relation of Meister to Teresa, in order the more speedily 
to reach the true and desired aim, the union of Natalia and 
Meister. This course, which threatened to lead from the 
wished-for end, is the very one to bring it about most 
becomingly and naturally. Now it may be pronounced 
with the highest degree of propriety and purity that Wil- 
helm and Natalia belong the one to the other, and the let 
ters of Teresa to Natalia prepare the way for it most aptly 
Contrivances of this kind are of the highest beauty, for 
they reconcile all that it is desirable to reconcile, nay 
what appears almost irreconcileable ; they entangle and 
carry within themselves the solution, they at once disturb 
and lead to repose, they reach the end while they seem to 
be forcibly bearing you from it. 

Mignon's death, though we are so well prepared for it 
has a powerful and deep effect, so deep, that to many yo 
will seem to quit it too soon. At the first reading this was 
my very strongly impressed feeling ; at the second, where 
th6re was no longer surprise, this impression was weaker 
still, however, I fear that you may here have gone a hair's 
breadth too far. Just before this catastrophe Mignon ha 
begun to appear more developed and more womanly, an 



tli(3reby to be for her own sake more interesting : the repul- 
sive heterogeneity of her being had relaxed, and with the 
relaxation had subsided that forbidding impetuosity of her 
nature. Especially did that last song melt the heart into 
the deepest emotion. It appears, therefore, odd, when 
immediately after the exciting scene of her death, the phy- 
sician makes an experiment upon her corpse, and can so 
quickly forget this animated being, in order to regard her 
as the instrument of an artistic trial ; it seems equally sin- 
gular that Wilhelm, who is, too, the cause of her death, 
and who also knows it, should at such a moment have 
eyes for that bag of instruments, and be able to lose him- 
self in the recollection of past scenes, while the present 
^hould possess him wholly. 

Should 3^ou be able to justify yourself entirely in the 
I case towards Nature, T yet doubt whether you will be able 
1 to do so towards the " sentimental" requisitions of readers, 
I and therefore I would advise you to have some regard to 
I this, in order not to injure by aught the impression on the 
reader of a scene so vv^onderfully prepared and executed. 
Everything else relating to Mignon, whether alive or 
I dead, strikes me as uncommonly fine. How admirably 
I suited is this pure and beautiful being to this poetical fune- 
} ral ! In her isolated condition, her mysterious existence, 
I her purity and her innocence, she represents so purely the 
[ period of life on which she has just entered, that she 
excites the most unmixed melancholy and a thoroughly 
human sorrow, because naught but humanity was mani- 
fested in her. What in the case of any other individual 
would be imperfect, nay revolting, becomes here sublime 
and noble. 

1 should like to have had the appearance of the Mar- 




quis in the family brought about by something else than 
his love of the Arts. By the organization of the whole 
you have yourself spoilt the reader, and justified him in 
making severer demands than one is generally authorized 
to make in novels. Could not this Marquis be made an 
old acquaintance of Lothario or the uncle, and his journey 
thither be woven more into the whole ? 

The catastrophe, as well as the whole history of the 
Harper, awakens the deepest interest. I have already 
mentioned how admirable I think it, that you deduce the 
horrible fate of the Harper and Mignon from religious ex- 
travagance. The idea of the Confessor, to paint a slight 
transgression as something monstrous, in order to obtain 
expiation for a great crime which he conceals out of 
humanity, is heavenly in its kind, and is a worthy repre- 
sentative of this whole way of thinking. Perhaps you 
could shorten a little Sperate's story, as it falls near the 
end, when one gets more impatient. 

That the Harper is Mignon's father, and that you your- 
self do not directly declare it, do not thrust it on the reader, 
produces the more effect. One makes one's own reflec- 
tions on it, recollects how near together those two myste- 
rious beings lived, and looks down into an unfathomable 
abyss of fate. 

But nothing more for to-day. My wife incloses a note, 
and tells you the impressions made on her by the eighth 

Now farewell, my dear, my honored friend. How it 
moves me to think that what we seek and scarcely find in 
the far distance of a favored antiquity, is to me present in 
you ! Be surprised no longer that there are so few capable 
and worthy of understanding you. The wonderful natural- 



ness, tnith, and lightness of your descriptions precludes, 
in the common herd of judges, all thought of the difficulty, 
the greatness of Art ; and upon those who are able to un- 
derstand the artist, who perceive the means with which he 
works, the genial power which they see in action, operates 
with such a hostile, annihilating effect, compresses their 
barren self into so small a compass, that they angrily 
thrust the work from them ; yet in their hearts, though 
de mauvaise grace, they are your liveliest worshippers. 



Jena, 3d July, 1796. 

I HAVE now well weighed in all its bearings Wilhelm's 
conduct on the loss of Teresa, and take back all my scru- 
ples. Just as it is, it must be. You have shown therein 
the highest delicacy, without in the slightest degree vio- 
lating truth of feeling. 

It is wonderful how beautifully and truly discri- 
minated are the three characters of the Canoness^ 
Natalia, and Teresa. The first two are saints, the last 
two are genuine human beings ; but on this very account, 
that Natalia is at once holy and human, does she appear 
as an angel, while the Canoness is merely a saint and 
Teresa entirely earthly. Natalia and Teresa are both 
realists ; but in Teresa is exhibited also the contractedness 
of realism ; in Natalia only its solidity. How fine it is that 
Natalia has no knowledge of love as an aflfection, as some- 
thing exclusive and particular, because love is her nature, 
her permanent character ! Nor does the Canoness know 
properly what love is, but from an entirely different cause. 

If I have rightly understood you, it is by no means 



without design that you make Natalia pass from the con- 
versation about love, and her own inexperience of this 
passion, directly into the Hall of the Past. The mood 
produced by this Hall is precisely that to lift one above all 
passion : the repose of beauty takes possession of the 
soul, and this gives the best key to Nature's nature, so free 
from love, and yet so full of love. 

This Hall of the Past unites the aesthetic world, the 
realm of shadows in the ideal sense, in a noble manner 
with the living and real ; as generally, whenever you in- 
troduce works of art, they combine admirably with the 
whole. It is so glad and free a step out of the constrained 
and narrow Present, and yet reconducts us back to it so 
beautifully. The transition likewise to the middle Sar- 
cophagus, to Mignon, and to the real story, is of the high- 
est effect. The inscription, think how to live [gedenke zu 
leben], is admirable, and is the more so, because it calls to 
mind the detestable memento mori, and triumphs over it 

The uncle, with his singular idiosyncrasies for certain • 
natural objects, is highly interesting. Precisely such na- 
tures have so marked an individuality and so full a mea- 
sure of susceptibility as the uncle must possess, in order to 
be what he is. His remarks on music, and that it ought 
to address itself purely to the ear, are also full of truth. It 
is evident that into this character you have put more of 
your own nature than into any other. 

Of all the leading characters, Lothario stands out the 
least prominently, but for wholly objective reasons. A 
character like this can never wholly appear in the medium 
through which the poet works. No single act or speech 
exhibits him; one must see him, hear him, live with him. 



Therefore it is enough, that those who live with him are 
unanimous in their confidence in him and high regard ; 
that the women all love him, who always judge from the 
total impression ; and that our attention is directed to the 
sources of his culture. With this character much more is 
left to the imagination of the reader than with the others, 
and most properly ; for he is (esthetic, he must therefore be 
produced by the reader himself, yet not arbitrarily, but ac- 
cording to laws which you have given with sufficient pre- 
cision. Nothing but his approximation to the ideal is the 
cause, that this precision of features can never turn into 

Jarno remains true to himself to the end, and his choice 
in regard to Lydia puts the crown upon his character. 
How skilfully you dispose of your women ! Characters 
like Wilhelm and Lothario can only be happy through 
union with beings that harmonize with themselves ; a per- 
son like Jarno can only be so with one in contrast with 
himself. He must have ever something to do and to think 
about, and to discriminate. 

The good Countess does not fare the best at the final 
poetical account ; but here also what you have done is 
perfectly consistent with Nature. A character like this 
can never be set up upon itself; for it, there is no develop- 
ment that could guarantee to it its repose and happiness • 
it remains always in the power of circumstances, and 
thence a kind of negative condition is all that can be ob- 
tained for it. That is, to be sure, not very agreeable for 
the beholder, but it is so, and the artist in this case only 
gives utterance to the law of Nature. Speaking of the 
Countess, I must remark, that her appearance in the eighth 
Book does not seem to me to be sufficiently accounted for. 
She comes io the denouement, but not ovt of it. 



The Count sustains his character admirably, and this 
also I must praise, that for the misfortune of the Harper, 
you make him blameable through his so well-contrived 
arrangements in the house. With all their love of order, 
such pedants must always create disorder. 

The perversity of little Felix in drinking out of the bot- 
tle, which has afterwards so important a result, belongs 
also to the happiest ideas of the plot. There are several 
incidents of this kind in the Novel, which are all fine in- 
ventions. They imite in so simple and natural a manner 
the indifferent to the important and the reverse, and melt 
together the necessary and the accidental. 

I very much enjoyed Werner's melancholy transforma- 
tion. A plodder like him could be lifted aloft for awhile 
only by youth, and by his consorting with Wilhelm ; so 
soon as these two angels quit him, he falls, as is right and 
reasonable, to his congenial element, and is obliged to be 
at last himself astonished at the distance he has remained 
behind his friend. This personage is also on this account 
so salutary to the whole, because it unfolds and ennobles 
realism, to which you bring back the hero of the Novel. 
At present he stands on a fine middle ground, equally dis- 
tant from the fantastical and the prosaic, and you have at 
once cured him most fully of the disposition to the first 
and impressively warned him against the latter. 

Herewith I send back Humboldt's letter. Much of what 
he says of the Idyl is true, parts of it he does not seem 
to have felt as I feel it. The trifles which he condemns 
lose themselves in the beautiful whole ; nevertheless, it 
were perhaps well to give some attention to them, and his 
reasons are not to be rejected. Two trochees in the fore- 
most hemi -pentameter do make the verse drag somewhat, 



and this holds, too, of the other passages. The antithesis 
between for one another and to one another, is a little too 
marked, if one takes it strictly ; and one likes always to 
be strict with you. 

Farewell. I have written a pretty long epistle : may 
you read as willingly as I wrote ! 



Jena, 5th July, 1796. 

Now that I have the whole work before my mind, I 
cannot sufficiently express how happily you have chosen 
the character of the hero, if in such a case there could be 
a choosing. None other were so well fitted to be the 
carrier of the incidents ; and leaving entirely out of view 
that only on such a character could the problem be pro- 
posed and solved, even for the mere presentation of the 
whole, no other would have suited so well. Not only 
did the subject require this particular character, the reader 
also needed it. 

His tendency to reflection makes the reader pause in the 
most rapid movement of the active, and obliges him to look 
ever forwards and backwards, and to meditate on all that 
occurs. He gathers in, so to speak, the spirit, the sense, 
the inward contents of everything that passes round him, 
converts each indistinct feeling into an idea, a thought, 
utters each particular in a general formula, interprets to us 
the significance of everything, and while he thereby fulfils 
his own character, he fulfils at the same time most per- 
fectly the aim of the whole. 

The rank and outward position from which you selected 
him makes him especially well fitted for this. A new 
world is opened to him, which makes a lively impression 


correspondb:xce between 

on him, and while he is busy in assimilating the same to 
himself, he leads us, too, into its interior, and shows us 
what there is therein of reality for man. In him resides 
a pure and moral image of humanity ; by this he tests each 
outward appearance of the same, and while on the one 
hand experience helps to give fixedness to his fluctuating 
ideas, this very idea, this inward feeling, rectifies on the 
other hand again experience. In this way this character 
helps you wonderfully, in all the events and relations that 
occur, to discover and interpret the essentially human. 
His mind is, indeed, a true but yet no mere passive 
mirror of the world, and although his fancy has an influ- 
ence on his perception, yet is this latter only ideal, not 
fantastic ; poetic, not extravagant. It has for a foundation 
not the caprice of the wayward imagination, but a beautiful 
* moral freedom. 

Beyond measure, truly and strikingly does his discon- 
tent picture him, when he gives to Teresa the history of 
his life. His worth lies in his mind, not in what he has 
done ; in his striving, not in his acts ; thence must his life, 
so soon as he wishes to give account thereof to another, 
appear to himself so empty. On the other hand, a Teresa, 
and similar characters, can always count their worth in 
ready coin, always vouch it through an outward object. 
That you, however, give Teresa a sense and appreciation 
of that higher nature is again a beautiful and delicate trait 
of character. In her clear soul there must be capacity to 
reflect that which she has not in herself, whereby you 
raise her at once above those limited beings Avho cannot 
even in idea pass beyond their barren selves. That 
finally, a mind like Teresa's believes in a mode of viewing 
things and of feeling so foreign to herself, that she loves 



and respects the heart that is capable of it, is an admirable 
testimony in favor of the objective reality of the mode 
itself, which must delight every reader. 

I was also glad to find in the eighth Book, that Wilhelm 
begins to feel himself more opposite to those two imposing 
authorities, Jarno and the Abbe. This is a proof that he 
has pretty well finished his apprenticeship, and Jarno an- 
swers on this occasion perfectly in accordance with my 
feeling : " You are sharp ; that is well and good : if you 
will only once get right savage, 'twill be still better." I 
acknowledge that without this manifestation of self-reli- 
ance, I should feel uncomfortable at seeing our hero con- 
nected so closely with this class, as he comes to be after- 
wards through the union with Natalia. What with his 
lively feeling of the advantages of nobility, and his honest 
distrust of himself and his condition, which he discloses on 
so many occasions, he does not seem to be fully qualified 
to be able to maintain in this relation a perfect freedom ; 
and even now, when you show him bolder and more self- 
relying, one cannot rid oneself of a certain anxiety about 
him. Will he ever be able to Ibrget the bourgeois, and 
must he not, if his destiny is to be completely fulfilled ? 
I fear he will never entirely forget it ; he has meditated 
thereon too much ; what he has once seen so distinctly 
out of himself, he will never be able fully to take into 
himself. Lothario's superior nature, as well as Natalia's 
two-fold merit, of birth and heart, will always keep him 
in a certain inferiority. When at the same time I think 
of him as the brother-in-law of tlie Count, who does not 
temper the elevation of his rank by anything aesthetic, but 
rather aggravates it by pedantry, I cannot but feel some- 
times anxious for him. 



For the rest, it is admirable how, with all becoming 
respect for certain outward positive forms, the moment 
there is to do with anything purely human, you thrust back 
birth and rank into their utter nothingness, and that, too, 
as is proper, without expending a word on the matter. 
But what I look upon as an obvious beauty, you scarcely 
find generally approved of. It will strike many as strange, 
that a novel, not in the least sans-culottish, but which, on 
the contrary, in several passages seems to say a good 
word for aristocracy, ends with three marriages, which are 
all three mesalliances. As I do not wish that in the 
denouement aught should be other than it is, and yet do not 
like to see the true spirit of the work misunderstood 
even in trifles and casual circumstances, I suggest to you, 
whether it were not well to counteract this false judgment 
by a few words put into Lothario's mouth. I say into 
Lothario's mouth, for he is the aristocratic character. He 
will have the most authority with readers of his class ; in 
his case, too, the mesalliance is the most glaring. At the 
same time this would afford an opportunity which does 
not occur often, to exhibit Lothario's completed character. 
I do not mean that this should take place at the point 
where the reader has to apply it ; on the contrary, it were 
so much the better if it came from Lothario as the natural 
utterance of his mind, independent of any application, and 
not as a rule for a single case. 

Nothing further to-day. You have now heard a great 
deal from me of one kind or other, and will hear still 
more. May there be something in it which will be ser- 
viceable to you ! 

A happy farewell to you. 





Immediately after I received your first letter, I began 
to write to you something about it : now, in the midst of 
my utterly earthly occupations, come suddenly upon me 
your two other letters, truly as voices from another world, 
to which I can do naught but listen. Go on refreshing 
and encouraging me. Through your thoughts and opinions 
you put me in a condition to complete the eighth Book when- 
ever I shall take hold of it again. I have the means to 
satisfy nearly all your wants, through which on the very 
points whereon you have doubts the whole becomes to my 
I mind more compact, true, and sightly. Do not tire of tell- 
I ing me fully your mind, and keep the eighth Book a week 
longer. In the mean time I will get forward with what 
you want of Cellini. I will write to you only summarily 
I what I design yet to do to the eighth Book, and thus will 
the last copy be ready to go out of our hands by the begin- 
ning of August. 

Your letters are at present my sole recreation, and you 
will be able to feel how thankful I am to you that you at 
once put me at ease on so many points. Farewell, and 
greet your dear wife. 

Weimar, 5th Jiilv, 1796. 



Jkna, 8th July, 1796. 

As you can let me keep the eighth Book a week longer, 
I will confine my present remarks to this Book. When 
the whole is out of your hands in the wide world, we can 
then occupy ourselves more about the form of the whole, 
and then you will do me on my side the service to rectify 
my judgment. 




Two points there are especially to which I would call 
your attention before the final closing of the Book. 

This Novel resembles in several respects the Epopee, 
among others in this, that it has machinery, which, in a 
certain sense, represents in it the gods, or governing fate. 
The subject required this. 

Meister's apprenticeship is no mere blind effect of Na- 
ture ; it is a kind of experiment. A concealed, active, 
higher understanding, the powers of the Tower, accompa- 
ny him with their watchfulness, and without disturbing 
Nature in her free movement, they observe and lead hioi 
from a distance and to an end, whereof he has not and 
should not have a surmise. Quiet and gentle as is this 
influence from without, it nevertheless exists, and to the 
attainment of the poetical aim it was indispensable. Ap- 
prenticeship implies relation ; it requires its co-relative 
mastership ; and, indeed, the idea of the latter is needed 
to explain and furnish a basis to the former. But this idea 
of mastership, which is only the work of Nature and com- 
pleted experience, cannot itself lead the Hero of the Novel ; 
it cannot and should not stand before him as his end and 
aim, for so soon as he should have in view the end, it 
were thereby attained ; it must therefore stand behind him 
as guide. In this way there is throughout the whole a 
beautiful subordination to an aim, without the Hero himself 
having an aim ; the understanding thus finds a business 
accomplished, while the imagination fully maintains its 

But that, with this aim, the only one in the whole Novel 
that is really declared, and even with this secret guiding 
of Wilhelm by Jarno and the Abbe, you avoided* all heavi- 
ness and hardness, and that you had derived the motive 



for it rather from a whim than from a moral source, is one 
of the most striking of those beauties that are peculiar to 
yourself! The idea of a machinery is thereby suppressed, 
while at the same time its agency continues, and every- 
thing remains, as regards form, within the bounds of Na- 
ture ; only the result is more than mere Nature left to itself 
could have produced. 

With all this, however, I still wish that you had made a 
little more apparent to the reader the important part of the 
machinery ; viz., its necessary bearing upon the internal 
character of the work. The reader should always be able 
to look clearly into the economy of the whole, although, 
from the acting personages themselves, this ought to 
remain concealed. Many readers, I fear, will think they 
see in that secret influence merely a theatrical play, and an 
artifice to add to the intricacy of the plot, to excite sur- 
prise, &c. The eighth Book, it is true, gives an historical 
explanation of all incidents brought about by the machine- 
ry, but it does not give satisfactorily enough the cesthetic 
explanation of the inward spirit, the poetical necessity of 
those contrivances : even I myself only became convinced 
of this necessity at the second and third reading. 

It were then a question, whether this fault, if it is a fault, 
could not still be obviated in the eighth Book. Moreover, 
it concerns only the development of the idea ; in the idea 
itself there is naught to wish changed. It is only, 
therefore, necessary to give a little more importance in the 
eyes of the reader to that v/hich hitherto he treated too 
frivolously, and by more distinctly connecting with the 
most serious import of the Poem those theatrical incidents, 
which he might look upon as a mere play of the imagina- 
tion, justify them to the Reason, as is done most implicitly 



but not explicitly. The Abbe seems to me well fitted to be 
charged with this duty, and he will thereby have an oppor- 
tunity further to recommend himself. Perhaps it were 
not superfluous to mention in the eighth Book the imme- 
diate occasion of Wilhelm's being made an object of the 
Abbe's pedagogic plans. These plans would thereby 
receive a more special reference, and Wilhelm personally 
would appear to the circle to be of more consequence. 

In the eighth Book you have dropt various hints of 
what you wish understood by Apprenticeship and by Mas- 
tership. As the purport of a work of fiction is the main 
consideration, especially with a public like ours, and is 
often the only thing afterwards recollected, it is of import- 
ance that you be here fully understood. The hints are ex- 
cellent, only they do not seem to me sufficient. You wish 
the reader himself to discover more than you directly impart 
to him. But precisely because you do give out something 
will it be thought that this is all, and thus you will have lim- 
ited your idea more than if you had left it entirely to the 
reader to find out. 

If I had to express in so many words the goal which 
Wilhelm has finally reached after so many aberrations, I 
should say : " He enters from an empty and undefined 
Ideal into a defined actual life, but without thereby forfeit- 
ing the idealizing power." The two opposite paths that 
lead away from this happy condition are exhibited in the 
Novel, and that in all possible shades and degrees. From 
that unfortunate expedition, v/here he wishes to construct 
a play without having thought of its contents, down to the 
moment when he chooses Teresa for his wife, he has, as 
it were, run through in a one-sided way the whole circle 
, of humanity : those two extremes are the two greatest 



contrasts of which a character like his is capable. That 
he now , under the beautiful and glad guidance of Nature 
(through Felix), passes over from the ideal to the real, 
from lively endeavor to action and a recognition of the 
actual, without, however, losing what was real in that first 
state of endeavor, that he learns to confine himself within 
limits, but in these limits themselves finds again the passage 
to the infinite, &c. ; this I call the crisis of his life, the 
end of his apprenticeship, and to this all the contrivances 
in the work tend most perfectly. The beautiful, natural 
relation to his child, and the union with so elevated a wo- 
man as Natalia, guaranty this state of spiritual health, and 
we part from him on a path which tends to an endless 

Now, the manner in which you express yourself as to 
the idea to be attached to Apprenticeship and Mastership^ 
seems to set a narrower limit to both. Under the first you 
understand merely the error of seeking out of oneself that 
which the inward man himself must yield ; under the 
second, the conviction of the inwardness of that search, of 
the necessity of self-development, &c. But does this idea 
entirely embrace and exhaust the whole life of Wilhelm as 
this lies before us in the Novel 1 Is everything intelligible 
by means of this formula ? And is it enough for his eman- 
cipation from the first state that the father's heart has dis- 
closed itself, as happens at the end of the seventh Book ? 
What I would therefore desire is this, that the bearing of 
all the parts of the work upon that philosophical idea be 
made somewhat more apparent. I might say, the Fable is 
perfectly true, the moral of the Fable is also perfectly 
true ; but the relation of one to the other is not quite obvi- 
ous enough. 



I do not know whether in these comments I have been 
able to make myself perfectly intelligible : the question 
relates to the whole, and it is therefore difficult to expound 
it by particular references. A hint, however, is here suf- 

Before you send me the copy of the Xenia, have the 
goodness to strike out what you wish omitted, and to under- 
score what you wish changed. I can then the sooner 
take my measures for what is still to be done. • 

May there be the mood and the time for the little poems 
you proposed to furnish to the Almanac, and to the poem 
of Mignon which we already have in joetto ! The lustre of 
the Almanac depends entirely upon your contributions. I 
now live and work again in Criticism, in order to make 
Meister quite clear to me, and cannot do much more for 
the Almanac. Then comes the confinement of my wife, 
which will not be favorable to the poetical mood. She 
sends her hearty regards to you. Farewell. On Sunday 
evening I hope to write to you again. 


Will you have the goodness to get for me out of the 
library at Weimar the fifth volume of the large Muratori 
Collection 1 


At the same time that I note on a separate sheet, the 
particular passages which I propose to alter and fill up 
according to your suggestions, I have to give you my 
warmest thanks for compelling me, by the admonitions 
contained in your letter of to-day, to direct my attention to 
the adequate completion of the whole. I beg you not to 
desist from, I may say, driving me out of my own limits. 



The fault which you so justly remark upon, has its source 
in the depths of my nature, in a certain feeling through 
which I find a satisfaction in veiling from the world's eyes 
my existence, my actions, my writings. Thus I like to 
travel incognito, to choose the worse instead of the better 
apparel, and in conversation with strangers or half-ac- 
quaintances to prefer a subject of little importance or at any 
rate the less important expression, to deport myself with 
more levity than is natural to me, and thus to place myself, 
as it were, between myself and the manifestation of my- 
self. You know very well, partly how it is, and partly 
Avhence it is. 

After this general confession I will pass very gladly to 
the particular one, that, but for your instigation, I should, 
against both knowledge and conscience, have abandoned 
myself to this peculiarity in this Novel, which, consider- 
ing the very great expenditure that has been made on it, 
would have been unpardonable, inasmuch as all that can 
be required is at once so easy to discern, and so conve- 
nient to supply. 

Thus, to announce in direct terms the early direction of 
the Abbe's attention upon Wilhelm, would throw a quite 
natural and spiritual light upon the whole, and yet I neg- 
lected to do it ; scarcely even could I make up my mind 
to tell through Werner, something favorable of his outward 

I had cut short in the seventh Book the Apprentice's in- 
denture, in which, thus far, one reads only a few maxims 
about Art. The second half was to contain certain im- 
portant sentences relating to Life, and I had the fairest 
opportunity, through a verbal commentary of the Abbe, to 
explain and vindicate the incidents generally, but particu- 



larly those brought about by the Powers of the Tower, 
and thus to save that machinery from the suspicion of 
being nothing but a cold and meaningless resource of the 
Novel-writer, and to give it an aesthetic value, or, more 
properly, to make obvious its aesthetic value. You see 
that I concur entirely with your views. 

There is no doubt that the apparent results, those de- 
clared by me, are not at all in proportion to the contents of 
the work, and I seem to myself like one who, after having 
set down one over the other a number of large figures, 
wantonly makes mistakes in the addition, in order, from 
some unaccountable whim, to diminish the total sum. 

I owe you for this, as for so much else, the heartiest 
thanks, that you have called my attention in so decided a 
way, and while it is still not too late, to this perverse 
manner of execution, and I shall certainly, in so far as I 
can, comply with your just wishes. I have only to dis- 
tribute the contents of your letter at the appropriate 
places, and that alone would set the matter right. And 
should it still happen (for human perversity is a most in- 
surmountable obstacle) that, after all, I be unable to get 
delivered of the important sentences, I beseech you, with 
some bold pencil strokes, to add with your own hand that 
which I, from the strangest tyranny of nature, am incapa- 
ble of uttering. Go on during this week reminding and 
animating me ; I will in the meanwhile provide for Cellini, 
and if possible for the Almanac. 

Weimar, 9th July, 1796. 





I SEND back to you the Xenia with my criticisms : the 
serious and well-meaning ones are now in such force, that 
one begrudges the ragamuffins Avho are assailed, that they 
are mentioned in such good company. 

Touching the portrait,* I do not see how we shall 
manage it. There is no one here who could copy it for 
this purpose. To send the original to Berlin would be 
unsafe ; moreover, Bolt is, I think, though an agreeable, 
by no means a thorough artist. How would it do to post- 
pone your friendly purpose until Meyer's return ? From 
him we might expect something in every respect good. 

Greet your dear wife. Could you not, in case of an 
increase of your family, send Charles over here ? Augus- 
tus would give him a hearty welcome, and he would be 
very happy in the company of the many children that as- 
semble in my house and garden. Farewell. 

Weimar, 9lh July, 179G. 



Monday Afternoon, 3 o'clock. 

The confinement of my wife took place two hours ago, 
in a shorter time than was expected, and with Starke's 
assistance, easily and happily. My wishes are in every 
respect fulfilled, for it is a boy, apparently lively and 
strong. You can conceive what a load is taken from my 
heart, especially as I had cause to fear the spasms might 
make the birth premature. 

I can now, therefore, begin to count my little family ; 

* An engraving of his portrait which Schiller wished to have 
lor the Almanac. 




it is a peculiar sensation, and the step from one to two is 
much greater than I thought. 

Farewell. My wife greets you ; she is, bating weak- 
ness, doing very well. 



I CAME over rapidly yesterday in Counsellor Loder's 
company. The copying of the Novel goes on briskly. 
This morning early I excogitated a little treatise, by which 
I expect to be able to give to you and myself a clear 
account of my method of observing nature, out of which 
hereafter can be made an Introduction to this class of my 
works. Herewith I send you one of Nature's products, 
which at this season must be consumed quickly. I hope 
it may taste well and agree with you. 

Weimar, 20th Julv, 1796. 



Only a few lines by way of greeting, and to give you 
our best thanks for the fish which we relished very much, 
namely, my mother-in-law, and myself, and the Schlegels, 
whom we invited to partake of it. 

I am so exhausted and fatigued, by a despatch to Cotta, 
and a variety of trifling matters, that I cannot write more 
to-day. I hope the events in Frankfort have not fallen, 
and will not fall hard on you and your mother. If you 
hear of anything concerning these occurrences, which 
does not appear in the newspapers, let me have informa- 
tion of it. Farewell. 

10 o'clock in the evening. 


It was reported here to-day that the Coadjutor was taken 




Jena, 25th July, 1796. 

These last few days I have not felt well enough to 
write to you of aught that interests us. I refrain also 
to-day, for my head is in a sad state, from a sleepless 

Political matters, which I have always from choi(^e 
avoided, are coming gradually closer and closer home to 

* ***** 

I lately heard that Stolberg, and others who happened 
to be with him, solemnly burnt Wilhelm Meister as far as 
the sixth Book, which he saved and had bound by itself. 
He seriously thinks it a defence of the Moravians, and 
has been much edified by it. 

Baggesen has spit an epigram at my Almanac, in which 
it is said the Epigrams are roughly dealt ^ith. The point of 
it is, that " after first exhibiting to the reader a series of 
ideal figures, a Venetian pot-de-chambre is emptied upon 
him." The judgment at least looks very like a drenched 
dog. I commend these two pieces of news to your best 
service. Will you have the goodness to send me what 
Xenia you have left, as the press is urgent for them ? 

My last Almanac is prohibited in Vienna ; we have, 
therefore, the less cause to forbear in the next one. 

Farewell. The eighth Book newly copied will set me 
in motion again. As to matters of Natural History, orally, 
Herder has sent various things for the Almanac, amoÄg 
them one on which is written — 

facit indignatio versum, 
Qualemcunque potest. 






Herewith I send a good letter from Meyer ; it is the 
second I have received from Florence, where he is doing 
well ; I only wish that he may establish himself there for 
a good long period, in the enjoyment of tranquillity. 

The copying of the Novel gets forward, and I still find 
a good deal to do at it ; I hope to send it to you on the 3d, 
or the 6th of August ; on the 1 0th I shall visit you, and 
then I hope we shall quickly get to the end of it. 

Probably, too, by that time the political troubles will be 
somewhat less obscure. Thuringia and Saxony have, it 
appears, a respite to bethink them, and even that is much. 

Kant's treatise on the elevated method of pursuing phi- 
losophy has given me much pleasure. It contributes de- 
cidedly towards separating things which do not belong 

The Auto da Fe of the Stol bergs and the Epigrams of 
Baggesen, will bring evil upon them. They have only 
credit because they have been tolerated, and it will take 
very little to thrust them back into the circle to which they 
belong. Farewell. I hope your wife will do well after 
the change, and that the baby may thrive on his new 
nourishment. I will in the meanwhile be as diligent as 
possible, in order to be able to spend some time with you 
in quiet, and to discuss with you various new under- 

Weimar, 26ih July, 1796. 





You will have, my dear friend, to exercise some pa- 
tience towards me at this period ; for now that the time is 
come in which I was to set out on my journey,* I feel 
very keenly what I lose by the deferment of so cherished 
a hope, which at my age is as good as crushed. What of 
culture I still need, I could only obtain from that source ; 
what is in me I could only by that means use and apply, 
and I was certain of bringing back into our narrow circle, 
a great treasure, through which hereafter we should have 
had a double enjoyment of the time I should have spent 
away from you. The observations of our excellent Meyer 
pain me ; he himself has but the half enjoyment from 
them, when I cannot share them ; and that I now see 
before me no undertaking which might cheer and buoy me 
up, also disheartens me. A long journey and many objects 
pressing upon me from all sides were more necessary to 
me than ever ; in the meanwhile, take it as I will, it were 
madness to set out at present, and so I must reconcile my- 
self to it as I best can. 

I hope to visit you soon, and am glad that you have 
devised a means by which we shall not lose our sport with 
the Xenia. I think it is the right one, and the Almanac 
retains its ancient form and will be distinguished among 
all others by an epilogue and prologue : it will not be con- 
fused through the mixture of heterogeneous kinds of 
poetry, and will be nevertheless as multifarious as possible. 
Who knows what we may strike out in order the next 
year to interest us in a similar manner 1 Of other matters 

* A journey to Italy, abandoned in consequence of the impedi- 
ments caused by the war. 



I will say nothing to-day. Farewell : greet your dear 
wife for me. I hope to find you and yours well, and in 
good spirits. 

Weimar, 2d August, 1796. 


Jena, 5th August, 1796. 

Matthisson passed through here to-day. He comes 
directly from Italy, through Trieste and Vienna. Accord- 
ing to his assurances, the journey to Italy is not so unsafe. 
He thinks there would be no difficulties by the route from 
Trieste to Rome, through Ancona. He himself had no 
unpleasant occurrences on the journey, and he was only 
detained at Nuremberg, for want of horses. If, therefore, 
within three or four weeks it were decided that you have 
nothing to fear for house and hearth, the journey might 
still be undertaken. Hirt, also, has left Italy ; Matthis- 
son parted from him in Vienna, but he says Hirt intends 
nevertheless to come this way. He had nothing more to 
tell of Meyer than what we already know, nor had he 
much that is new to say of any of the late events. 

Of other matters, the next time. I am not alone. May 
this letter find you cheerful and becalmed ! All are well 
with me, and my wife sends you hearty greetings. 



The ci-devant Xenia look very well in their new ar- 
rangement. Now, if you could but find the few titles that 
are Avanting : me, the spirit has not been willing to move 
lately. The next week I shall be with you, and I hope 
our meeting will not be unfruitful ; we shall be able to 



complete some tilings, and to project others. In Natural 
History, I have interesting matters to tell you of. 

Within these few days I have discovered the most 
beautiful phenomenon that I know in organic nature (and 
that is saying much), and send you immediately the de- 
scription thereof. I am ignorant whether or not it is 
known ; if it is, the naturalists deserve blame for not pro- 
claiming in all highways so important a phenomenon, in- 
stead of vexing the seekers of knowledge with so many 
tedious details. I have been able to make the observation 
only on one species, probably however it is the same with 
all, which will be decided before the Autumn is over. As 
the change takes place so rapidly, and on account of the 
smallness of the space the movement cannot be seen, it is 
like a fairy tale when one watches the little creature ; for 
it is something to grow in twelve minutes half an inch in 
length, and proportionally in breadth, and thus to increase, 
as it were, cubically, and the four wings all at once ! I 
will see if it is not possible to let you behold this pheno- 
menon with your own eyes. 

Farewell. Between ourselves I hope to be able to 
bring you with me peace and quiet for Thuringia and 
Upper Saxony. 

Weimau, 6th August, 1796. 


Postscript. — Of course you are not to figure to yourself 
this growth as if the solid parts of the wings increased so 
much in so short a time ; but I infer that the wings are 
already perfectly formed out of the most delicate tela 
cellulosa, which, by the action of some elastic fluid, be it 
air or vapor, becomes exuded with such quickness. I 
am satisfied that something similar might be detected in 
the development of flowers. 




My bundle was ready ; I hoped again to spend some 
time with you. Unhappily a variety of circumstances 
detain me, and I don't know when I shall see you. 

I should like to be more distinctly informed what you 
wish to know about the Herculanean discoveries, in order 
to be able to meet your wishes. I send you herewith 
Volckmann ; there is, also, in the Buettnerian Library a 
work entitled, Description of Heracleia, from the Italian 
of Don Marcello Venuti : Frankfort and Leipsig, 1749. 

The Novel again gives signs of life. After my fashion, 
I have found a body to your ideas ; I know not whether 
you will recognize those spiritual beings in their earthly 
form. I have almost a mind to send the work to the press 
without showing it to you again. That it can never satis- 
fy your demands, is owing to the difference in our na- 
tures ; and even that will without fail give occasion to 
many beautiful comments when you shall once pronounce 
upon the whole. 

From time to time let me hear something of the Alma- 
nac. Here is a short contribution ; if you can use it, I 
have no objection to my name being put at the end of it. 
What has put me in this mood, is an arrogant expression 
of Mr. Richter, in a letter to Knebel. 

Don't fail to let me know what Humboldt writes. 

In a few days Counsellor of Legation, Mattel, will call 
to see you ; give him a friendly reception ; he was tutor 
to Count Forstenburg, the natural son of the Duke of 
Brunswick, and also attached to his mother, Madame de 
Brankoni, and with both he has seen a good deal of the 
world. Farewell. 

Weimar, 10th August, 179G. 





I HAVE just received your letter, and will forthwith send 
off the manuscript you ask for. My best thanks for 
Volckmann and the other notices. The Chinese shall go 
warm to the press ; that is the true way to treat such folk. 

I am much disappointed that you cannot come imme- 
diately. I should have liked so well just now to light my 
little lamp by you. In regard to the Novel, you are right 
to reject others' views that do not assimilate with your 
nature. Here all is of one piece ; and even were there a 
chasm (which is by no means certain), it is better that it 
remain, as from you, than that it be filled up in a manner 
that is foreign to you. But, of this, more hereafter. 

On Friday I shall send you sheets of the Almanac. 



I GOT to-day so deeply engaged in a Poem, that I for- 
got it was post-day. I have this moment been reminded 
thereof by my wife, who sends you some biscuit, and I 
have only time for a few words. 

Here are proofs of the better and inferior copies of the 
first sheets of the Almanac. The fourth is now in the press, 
and it is probable that we shall be able to get it ready in the 
first week of September. It will be amazingly rich, and 
altogether different from the one of last year. If I set off 
your Idyl against the Epigrams in that of the last year, 
the one of this will bear the palm. With my contribu- 
tions therein, I am much better satisfied than I am with 
those of last year. I feel in an astonishing degree the 
change wrought in me by close relations with you ; and, 




although the quality and the ability must remain the same, 
nevertheless a great purification has taken place within 
me. Some things which I have just now in hand call 
forth this remark. 

I have not yet seen Mr. Mattel ; whenever he presents 
himself he shall be welcome. My brother-in-law, Coun- 
sellor V. Wolzogen, with his wife, is at present here. 
For several years he has occupied himself with Architec- 
ture, and, as he does not want talent, and has moreover 
travelled, you will not find him empty. 

Farewell, and don't stay away too long. I just now 
wish very much to have the eighth Book again ; can I not 
get it soon ? 



Your kind letter, accompanied by the first sheets of the 
Almanac and the good biscuit, was very acceptable to 
me ; it found me in the midst of all kind of work. The 
Almanac makes really a brilliant figure, and the whole 
cannot fail to be rich and manifold. As you are having 
several pages reprinted, could you not include the Icy 
Way 1 As it now stands, it promises to be a whole, a 
promise which is not fulfilled, and the two distichs at the 
end make the idea still more wavering. I send you here- 
with how I should like them printed. * * # 

What say you to the inclosed marvellous story ? It is 
taken from the Florence paper ; suppose you have it co- 
pied, and show it to some of your friends. A remarkable 
ordinance has at the same time been issued from the 
Quirinal, for the protection of the French commissaries 
who are expected. Therein it is declared, that instant 



and most severe punishment, without the forms of trial, 
will be inflicted on whoever shall in the slightest manner 
insult them, or shall stir up any excitement or movement, 
no matter what may take place ; referring apparently to 
the removal of the works of Art. 

Meyer has written, and is in good spirits ; he has alrea- 
dy begun to copy the Madonna della Seggiola, and will 
probably afterwards undertake part of a fine picture by 
Michael Angelo : he still hopes to see me soon. 

Next week I shall be able to say more of our politics. 
The Saxon contingent remains in Voightland, and the 
other troops are so distributed that the Cordon has a shape ; 
notwithstanding which, however, the best that is to be 
hoped will not depend on force and power, but on higher 
relations and brighter constellations. 

Greet all who are around you ; I rejoice in the pros- 
pect of soon seeing you again, as from our reciprocal 
influence I hope for results which we now cannot at all 
foresee. Farewell. 

Weimar, 13th Aug., 1796. 



At last I have letters from Swabia, which indeed do 
not give me much information, but on the whole relieve 
me. I send you Cotta's letters. My family has suffered 
little from the troubles of war, but so much the more from 
the illness of my father, who languishes on a painful sick 
bed with the prospect of a slow death. My youngest 
sister, of whom 1 told you last March, died in April, and 
my second escaped death with difficulty. 

As just now I can only send letters to Swabia, through 



Frankfort, and the present order to Cotta is very important 
to me, I beg you to envelope the enclosed to your mother 
in Frankfort, with a request that it be immediately de- 
spatched to Stuttgart. 

At the same time have the goodness to let me know to 
whom I am to apply in Weimar for the cover for the Al- 
manac about which Cotta writes. 

More by the carrier to-morrow ; to-day my hands are 
full of work. 


I have just learnt that the Post here takes letters for 
Stuttgart through Frankfort; I therefore don't need to 
trouble you. 

Jena, 15lh August, 1796. 



Although we are more than ever dependent on the 
moment, I yet hope that nothing will prevent me from 
being with you to-morrow evening. The tahulas votivas 
I will bring back with me. Your distichs are extraordi- 
narily fine, and they will certainly have an excellent 
effect. If it is possible for the Germans to understand 
that a man may be a thorough good fellow without being a 
Philister* or a simpleton, your " sayings" will bring about 
that good, inasmuch as the great relations of human na- 
ture are set forth with so much nobleness, freedom and 

* Philister is a term applied derisively by the German students 
to trades-people and citizens. Thence it has got to be used generally 
to signify a prosaic vulgar-ininded person. 



Far am I from condemning the insertion in the Alma- 
nac of certain articles ; for in it one looks for sociable 
variety, alternations of tone and of manner ; one wishes 
to have at the same time bulk and multiplicity ; good taste 
delights in discrimination and bad has an opportunity of 
strengthening itself, inasmuch as it is made game of. 

We'll talk this all over. I hope that we shall this time 
again make a good stride forward together. As I have 
got rid of the Novel, my mind is already full of a thou- 
sand other things. Farewell. 

W^EiMAR, I7th Aug., 1796. 



On the whole, I find but one impression produced by 
the Almanac. Every one finds himself struck by the 
phenomenon ; and every one gathers himself up to speak 
of it with seeming liberality, and with more or less con- 
strained satisfaction ; and now mark whether that will not 
be mostly the case. 

My best thanks for the singular information, that the 
Prophetf is in Jena. I shall endeavor to keep out of his 
way, and am very curious as to what you will say of him. 
Blumenbach has been with me also ; he has with him a 
very interesting mummy's head. 

If the meeting takes place between the Prophet and 
Paulus, the latter will probably get the worst of it, and 
will moreover have himself to thank that he has been 

* The intervening letters, from the 211th to this one, relate almost 
entirely to the printing, publishing and distributing of the Alma- 

t Lavater. 



insulted. The Prophet makes nothing of ingratiating 
himself even by the basest flattery, in order afterwards to 
be able the more securely to drive in his arrogant claws. 

Do tell me something about the history of the little 

A package of Cellini, about twelve sheets of manu- 
script, will come soon ; then there will remain two divi- 
sions which I shall take in hand one after the other, as I 
feel utterly unfit to do anything else. The two poor last 
songs will have to tarry yet a while in Limbo. Here in 
Weimar, there is a species of the most horrible prose, of 

which otherwise one would have no idea. 


Yesterday my Friday-Society began again : I will, 
however, only have it every fortnight, and give out invita- 

Farewell, and greet everybody. 

Wkimar, 15th Oct., 1796. 



Jena, 16th Oct., 1796. 
****** '-H * 

You must read the new piece from the Journal, Ger- 
many. The insect has again not been able to abstain 
from stinging. Really we ought to hunt it to death, else 
we shall have no peace for it. He has aimed his malice 
at Cellini, and to vex you he has praised, and partly ex- 
tracted, those passages which you have omitted. Of the 
essay of Stael he speaks with great contempt. 

I gave you the day before yesterday an unnecessary 
alarm about Lavater. It was his brother who was here. 



Reichardt also is, I hear, in Leipsig ; Niethammer and 
Paulus did not, however, see him. Schlegel is still in 
Leipsig, where probably the two hearts will discharge 
themselves towards each other. 



p. S. I have just received a very handsome letter from 
Körner about the Almanac. You shall have it to-mor- 


I SEND you Körner's letter, which is a very comforting 
sound amidst the unmeaningness and flatness of the com- 
mon judgment. Send it back to me as soon as you have 
read it. 

The Humboldts wrote lately that they set off from Ber- 
I lin by the end of this week, will stop on the way about 
ten days, and arrive here about the first of November. 

Of the Xenia I have heard nothing further. Schlegel, 
who has returned, was too short a time in Leipsig, as he 
made an excursion to Dessau, to be able to learn much. 
On his return from Dessau, he says they had already 
made much stir in Leipsig. 

I hear that among others the Duchess in W. is sup- 
posed to be the " elegant Maiden." 

The Xenion, " Wieland ! How rich is thy genius, <fec.," 
some take for a satire on Wieland and the new edition ! 
I &c. 

Farewell. I am interrupted. 

18lh Oct., 1796. 





Many thanks for the letter of Körner which you sent 
me. A feeling of such thorough friendliness, and yet 
growing out of the aesthetic interest, is a rare phenomenon. 
I will retain the letter a few days longer, to take the op- 
portunity of examining several poems which I have not 
yet read. Give your friend from me cordial greetings 
and thanks ; tell him something of my new poem, and 
assure him I rejoice in the prospect of seeing it some day 
in his hands. 

We must let the dog of Gibichenstein bark for a while, 
until we get a good chance to strike him. In general all 
opposition-men, who lay themselves out to deny, and like 
to detract somewhat from everything, must be treated like 
dogs that would stop your way ; one must constantly walk 
quietly up and down before their eyes. 

I fear there is something else behind his praise of the 
omitted passages of Cellini. As he has the original, I 
fear lest he translate the wanting passages, and put forth a 
pirated edition of the whole, for he is capable of anything. 
I will, therefore, hold back the two other parts, which at 
any rate belong together, in the meantime fill out my manu- 
script, and announce a complete edition ; for there is an 
active inquiry for it, and people are already getting impa- 
tient of the disjointed perusal in the Journal. 

When you write to Boie, ask him if he will let me keep 
the English translation which I have from him through 
Eschenburg. I will willingly pay what it cost, and pro- 
mise besides a copy of my translation, when it is published 

I am delighted to hear of Humboldt's visit. As soon 
as he arrives, I will pay you a visit, if only for a day. 



Farewell ; greet everybody for me, and tell me soon 
that you have begun a new work. 

Weimar, 19th Oct., 1796. 



Jena, 23d October, 1796. 

Cordial thanks for Meister, who will often quicken 
and inspirit me. I have delivered the four other copies. 

Humboldt has been quite taken by surprise by our Alma- 
nac, and has revelled in it : the Xenia, too, have made on 
him the clear impression which we desire. I am glad to 
perceive again that upon every liberal mind the impression 
is agreeable and enlivening. In Berlin, he writes, although 
there has been a great rush for it, he has heard nothing 
either interesting or pleasant. Most people spoke of it 
under the infection of moral common-places, or they laugh 
at everything without discrimination as a literary bear- 
baiting. Among the pieces, which he did not before 
know, the Icy Way and the Muses by you delighted him 
particularly, and by me, the Sexes and the Visit. Like 
Genz, he admires the Tahulas Votivas ; but a separation 
of the property of each of us in those productions written 
in common he finds very difficult. Of the Xenia he 
writes, that they are all put upon your shoulders, which 
opinion has been confirmed in Berlin by Hufeland, who 
maintains that he has read them all in your hand-writing. 

I have heard nothing else lately of the Almanac, and 
think that we shall but too soon discover how very little at 
present we can count on a general feeling in the public. 

Humboldt hopes to be able to be here in eight days. I 
rejoice at living with him again for a while. He writes 



that he did not find Stolberg in Eutin, because lie happened 
just then to have gone to Copenhagen, and of Claudius he 
can give no information. 

Your Swiss letters interest every one who reads them, 
and I am very glad that I have been able to extort these 
from you. It is also true that they give an uncommonly 
vivid picture of the Present out of which they flowed, and 
without having an artistic origin, they combine together 
into a whole very naturally and aptly. 

The conclusion of Meister has deeply affected my sis- 
ter-in-law, and in this instance I find my expectation, as 
to what produces the chief effect, confirmed. 'Tis ever 
the pathetic which first takes possession of the soul ; only 
later does feeling unite itself to the enjoyment of the 
serenely beautiful. At the first and also second perusal, 
Mignon will probably leave on every one the deepest fur- 
row ; but still I believe that you will attain that for which 
you have striven ; that is, to resolve this pathetic emotion 
into one of beauty. 

How glad I am that you propose coming for a few days ! 
Now that I have got rid of the labor of the Almanac, I have 
so much need of a new animating source of interest. It 
is true I have undertaken Wallenstein, but I haven't come 
to close quarters with it yet, and wait for a powerful hand 
to throw me entirely into it. The season weighs upon 
me as on you, and I often think that a clear look of the 
sun could not but start me. 

Farewell. I must beg you to have the bills of both the 
engraver and book-binder against the Almanac made out ; 
on Wednesday I send the whole account to Cotta, and 
therefore wish to have each voucher separate. 

Farewell. All greet you. 





The box which brought the biscuits I send back with 
many thanks. In place of them I have laid therein a 
number of the Philosophical Journal, of which I have a 
duplicate, and which I beg you to deliver to Niethammer. 

Of the last number of the Horen for this year, as well 
as of the first for the next, I have been already thinking ; 
but so far, I am sorry to say, without hitting upon anything 
that will serve. Such old things as I have, are without 
proper form, and are indeed out of date. The journal of 
my journey from Weimar to Rome, my letters from Rome, 
and what else there is among my papers relating thereto, 
could only be put into shape by myself ; and then all that 
I noted down during that period has more the character of 
a man who escapes from a pressure than of one who lives 
in freedom, — of a man who is struggling, who only be- 
comes aware, little by little, that he is not equal to the 
subjects which he wishes to compass, and who only finds 
out at the end of his career that he is now for the first time 
in a fit state to begin it all over again. These papers 
might acquire some value were they properly worked up ; 
but as they are now in their simple, natural state, they are 
altogether too naif. 

On the whole I am tolerably satisfied with the Weimar 
public as regards the Almanac, but the course is always 
just the same ; the Xenia sell the Tabulas Votivas and 
whatever else there is that is good and earnest in the little 
volume. That people should not be everywhere satisfied 
with us, was just our design, and that there is indignation 
in Gotha is very well ; they looked on there with the great- 
est unconcern when I and my friends were treated very 
uncivilly ; and as literary club-law is not yet done away 



with, we avail ourselves of the liberty it allows us to right 
our own wrongs, and to cry down the necrologic vulture 
who pecked out the eyes of our poor Moritz the moment he 
was dead. I am only waiting to see if any notice is taken 
of it, as I shall then expectorate as pleasantly and politely 
as possible. 

I wish very much to hear that Wallenstein has taken 
hold of you ; it will suit both you and the German theatre. 

Within these few days I have begun to examine more 
closely the intestines of animals, and if I keep at it pretty 
diligently, T hope, during the winter, to get very well 
through this department of Organic Nature. Farewell. 1 
wish very much to see you soon again. 

Weimar, 26th Oct., 1796. 



Jena, 28th Oct., 1796. 

Herewith you receive the ninth number of the 
Horen — six copies for you, one for the Duke, and one for 
Meyer. I beg you to have the inclosed delivered to Wie- 
land and Knebel. 

Madame v. Humboldt, with her children, arrived here 
this morning. He is still in Halle with Wolf, and will be 
here in three days. 

The Humboldts were in Berlin lately, when our Alma- 
nac arrived. They say it made a great noise. Nicolai 
calls it the Almanac of the Furies. Zöllner and Biester 
were quite enchanted over it. You see that we have suc- 
ceeded with Biester. He thinks the Xenia are written 
with too much moderation. Some one else said a new 
plague had come into the world, for that every year people 
Avould be in terror of the Almanac. Meyer, the poet, was 



of opinion that we two had torn each other to pieces in the 
Xenia, and that the Distich, Cheap Resjwct, p. 221, was 
written by me on you. 

Weltmann was yesterday with me, and insisted that of 
the Xenia, Wieland had been heard to say, he only 

regretted that was praised in them, because so 

many other worthy people were maltreated. Woltmann is 

firmly convinced that no other than is meant by the 

necrologic raven that croaks behind Wieland. 

At last has appeared the first printed attack on the 
Xenia, and if all are like it, we need give ourselves no 

thought about them. This attack is in the Imperial 

Advertiser. Schütz sent it to me ; it is in the form of a 
distich, in which, however, the pentameter comes before 
the hexameter. You cannot conceive anything more 
pitiful. The Xenia are spitefully abused. 

But what will amuse you is an article in the new Leip- 
sig Intelligencer, which is published in folio. A worthy 
anonymous has taken up the cudgels for the Horeji 
against Reichardt. Neither is named, but they are so 
indicated as not to be mistaken. He thinks it very censura- 
ble, that the publisher of two journals should impudently 
praise one in the other, and betray a mean envy of another 
journal. For the present he is content with giving this hint, 
but should it have no efiect, he threatens to fall foul of him 
very roughly. 

Here are enough novelties for to-day. We are all doing 
very well ; I advance slowly with my work. Farewell. 





I A3I obliged to go to Ilmenau for a few days, and hasten 
to thank you for the Horen you sent me. 'Tis very 
pleasant to learn through Humboldt of the stir the Alma- 
nac made in Berlin ; he will also be able to relate how 
things look in Halle. So soon as I return T will visit you. 
Gotha is likewise in great excitement on account of our 

audacity. Herewith is a leaf of distichs by , who 

takes the matter quite amiably. I send back the 

Essay, also the copper-plates. It were a good piece of 
fortune if at Ilmenau I can bring forth another piece of the 
Epic poem ; the Perfect Solitude seems to promise some- 

I have heard again from Meyer ; his copy is finished, 
and he is now busy again with descriptions of Antiqui- 
ties. Farewell, and write to me still here ; my letters are 
sent after me. Many regards to Humboldt, and to your 
dear wife. I long much to see you again. 

Weimar, 29th Oct., 1796. 



Jena, 2d Nov., 1796. 

Only a short salutation for to-day. Humboldt arrived 
yesterday ; he sends his best regards to you, and delights 
in the prospect of seeing you. He is well and cheerful, but 
his wife, who is enceinte, is not in the best health. He 
was very near arriving here with Reichardt ; he could 
only escape him through stratagem. Reichardt will be 
here in a fortnight, to take, he says, Frederick Schlegel 
away from this to Gibichenstein. That I call being really 
carried off by the devil. 

They say he gets sentimental about the Xenia, and 



because Schlegel assures him that you had no hand in 
those that are directed at him, he takes great comfort, and 
Humboldt thinks that you are by no means secure against 
a visit from him. He believes that you still have some 
esteem for him. He also praised very warmly to Hum- 
boldt your articles in the Almanac. It appears, therefore, 
that for the present you have not yet attained your object 
with him ; he is, and remains your friend, before the 
world, at least in his own eyes, and will probably now 
more than ever aim to pass for such. 

In Halle, Wolf, and particularly Eberhard, are much 
pleased with the Xenia, and even Kleim, the relative of 
Nicolai. More particulars verbally, because this is a busy 
post-day with me. 

Thirty copies of the Almanac have been sent to me to- 
day from your house. 

Farewell ; all send regards to you. 



Your two letters, most valued friend, I did not receive 
till late in Ilmenau, whither, as to Cimmeria, carriers 
slowly come, the sun seldom penetrates at this season, 
but the Almanac found its way early enough. I rest satis- 
fied for the present, that, on the whole, we have produced 
with both little works the due effect ; single utterances 
can seldom do the author good. He has reached his aim 
— ^be it placed near or far — where readers have a fair 
view of him. Then they come, they go, they run and 
even trip by, others stand still on the way, others turn 
right round, others beckon and require that the author 
should turn back again to them in the flat country out of 
which he has worked himself with so much trouble. Thus 



we must look upon the universal attention we have excited 
as the whole result, and privately enjoy ourselves with 
those who are drawn to us by sympathy and insight, 
which are, after all, the only pure bonds of union ; thus I 
owe to you closer relations with Körner and Humboldt, 
which to me in my situation are very reviving. 

Through the immediate contact with the mountains, and 
through the Voigtian Cabinet of Minerals, I have been 
drawn again into the realm of rocks. I am very glad that 
I have thus in an accidental way renewed these observa- 
tions, without which moreover the celebrated Morphology 
would not become complete. I have on this occasion 
plucked from these objects some good views, which I will 
take an opportunity of communicating. 

Otherwise I have not seen so much as the hem of the 
garment of a Muse, nay, even for prose I have found my- 
self unapt, and neither of production nor reproduction has 
there been the slightest trace. We must wait patiently 
for what is to come. When I can see you, I know not 
yet ; for the present I cannot get away from this ; perhaps 
I will come just for one day, to greet Humboldt, and talk 
over many things. Farewell, and give my regards to all 
around you. Herewith is the copy for Humboldt. 

Weimar, 12th Nov., 1796. 



Jena, 13th Nov., 1T9G. 

It is truly a comfort to me to know that you are again 
near us ; I have never yet been so long separated from 
you, although I have been less alone than usual. I shall 
be happy to be made acquainted with your new discove- 
ries for Morpliology ; the poetic hour will strike in due 



Nothing new has happened here in your absence ; 
neither in the literary world has anything that I know of 
turned up. I send you the Coadjutor's letter relating to 
the Xenia. From it you will see, that a man may sin 
largely who has once got himself settled in a good moral 

I have been studying diligently the historical sources of 
my Wallenstein, and have made some not unimportant 
advances into the economy of the piece. The more I 
rectify my ideas as to its form, the more enormous appears 
to me the bulk which is to be mastered, and truly without 
a certain bold faith in myself I should hardly be able to 

proceed. If you have the work of , on Iffland, I 

beg you to send it to us. I have heard such odd things 
about it ; they say there is a letter in it from Mad. . 

I send you another leaf of hexameters, that have been 
made against you or me in Breslau, by a champion of Mr. 
Manso. It is strange that so far all our assailants fail in 
the measure. 

Alexander Von Humboldt, his brother tells me, is de- 
lighted with the Xenia. So here we have another with 
whose nature this substance can assimilate. 

Farewell. All send best regards to you ; the Hum- 
boldts, who thank you cordially for the copy of Meister, 
long to see you. All are well with me. 



The papers I received from you to-day shall be sent 
back immediately. It is really remarkable that our adver- 
saries have not yet been able to discover the element in 
which we move. 




I send you the " High German Literary Gazette," and 
beg you to let me have it again soon. A light, superficial, 
but well-meaning treatment of the whole, such as this, is 
not unacceptable. The reviewer is, at any rate, from be- 
ginning to end, ä son aise, which would not be the case 
with every one. The mistakes of the press in the quoted 
passages are amusing enough. 

I send also the book you ask for. Such a patchwork 
has seldom been seen. If artists and works of art did not 
always, like loaded puppets, set themselves again on their 
legs, they would, through the aid of such friends, be stuck 
with their heads downwards in the mud for ever. It is 
extraordinary how, with all his impotence, the author 
endeavors by certain thrusts to make himself formidable 
even to his own hero. His malice towards you is con- 
spicuous in several passages. I have a mischievous pro- 
ject, whereby, through a sophistical turn, he may be put in 
the wrong, and exterminated on his own ground. If you 
approve of the joke, I will execute it ; it is, 1 think, sans 
replique, like the one about literary sans-culottism. But 
more of this verbally. 

Meyer sends kind greetings to you; he is doing bravely 
in Florence, both as to active work and study ; only the 
loneliness is getting oppressive to him. Farewell, and 
give my kind regards to all that are dear to you. 

Weimar, 13th November, 1796. 



Some things that I left out yesterday I will at once 
bring up. In the first place, I congratulate you on the 
second edition ; you could not well do otherwise than have 
it printed in Jena. Send me the paper for the covers soon. 



for they move slowly here. I will at an early day send 
you some mistakes of the press. How large do you think 
of making this edition ? We may yet live to see the 

You can announce to me, however, nothing more agree- 
able than your perseverance at Wallenstein, and your be- 
lief in the possibility of a completion ; for after the mad 
venture with the Xenia, we must devote ourselves to 
nothing but large and noble works of art, and, to the con- 
fusion of all adversaries, transmute our poetic nature into 
the forms of the noble and good. 

The first three cantos of my epic poem are thoroughly 
worked up, and have been once more copied. I look 
forward with pleasure to taking an opportunity of reading 
them to the Humboldts. 

My observations in Natural History give me much plea- 
sure. It seems peculiar, and still it is natural, that in the 
end there must result a kind of subjective whole. It be- 
comes, if you please, strictly the world of the eye, which 
is exhausted through color and form. For when I pay 
close attention, I need very little assistance from the other 
senses, and all reasoning transforms itself into a kind of 

So much for to-day, with a hearty farewell. 

Weimar, 15th Nov., 1796. 



Jena, 18th Nov., 1796. 

In Copenhagen they are furious against the Xenia, as 
Mad. Schimmelmann writes to say, who had herself a 
more liberal sentimentality, and, if she could, would like 



to be just towards us. We must by no means expect that 
this production of ours will be estimated according to its 
nature ; they who are the best disposed towards us barely 
tolerate it. 

In all opinions of this kind that I have heard, the mise- 
rable part of the seduced falls to my lot ; you have at least 
the consolation of the seducer. 

It is indeed very well, and for me particularly, to bring 
before the public just now something important and earnest ; 
but when I reflect that the gTcatest and highest, even for 
sentimental readers, has been accomplished by you, quite 
recently in Meister, and even in the Almanac, without the 
public being able to overcome its sensitiveness as to light 
attacks, I scarcely hope ever to get it into a better mood 
by anything good and finished in my style. You, they 
never will pardon your truth, your depth of nature ; and for 
me, if I may here speak of myself, the strong opposition 
of my nature to the times and to the multitude, will never 
make the public my friend. It is well that this is by no 
means necessary to put and keep me in activity. You 
can be totally indifl*erent to it, particularly now, when, in 
spite of all shallow talk, the taste of the better sort is taking 
such a direction as must lead to the fullest recognition of 
your merit. 

Herewith is a long letter from Körner on Meister, 
which contains much that is beautiful and excellent. Pray 
send it back to me immediately by the carrier-girl, as I 
should like to have it copied, and use it for the twelfth 
number of the Horen, if you have no objection. 

I don't dare yet to think of the Almanac for next year, 
and all my hope is turned toward you. For I now per- 
ceive clearly, that Wallenstein will take me the whole 




winter, and even almost the whole summer, inasmuch as 
I have to deal with a most refractory material, out of which 
I can only extract something by an heroic perseverance. 
As, moreover, I want some even of the commonest means 
through which a man is brought in closer contact with 
life and with men, and steps forth out of his narrow exist- 
ence on to a wider stage, I must therefore, like an animal 
that is deficient in certain organs, learn to do more with 
those I have, and, as it were, make up for the hands with 
the feet. In fact, I lose an incalculable quantity of strength 
and time, in overcoming the limits of my accidental situa- 
tion, and preparing for myself special instruments in order 
to master a subject so foreign to me as the living world, 
and particularly the political. I am right impatient that I 
have only got so far in the tragic tale of Wallenstein, as to 
be perfectly certain of its fitness for tragedy ; for if I 
found it otherwise, I would not indeed entirely abandon 
the work, for I have wrought enough at it already to make 
out of it a good dramatic picture, but I should first finish 
the " Knights of Malta," which, with a much simpler 
organization, is decidedly adapted to tragedy. 

Farewell ; we all heartily long to see you. 

Herewith you receive the copper-plate from Bolt, to- 
gether with paper for printing. 



The letter of Körner has given me a great deal of plea- 
sure, the more that it happened to find me in a decided 
aesthetic loneliness. The clearness and freedom with 
which he surveys his subject, are truly admirable ; he 
floats over the whole, views the parts with individuality 


and clearness, takes first here, then there, a voucher for his 
judgment, decomposes the work in order to put it together 
again after his own fashion, and for the present sets aside 
whatever disturbs the unity that he seeks or finds, instead 
of stopping at it at once, or even leaning directly against 
it, as readers generally do. The underscored passage 
pleased me particularly, as upon this point I especially 
directed an uninterrupted attention, and, according to my 
feeling, this ought to be the chief thread, which latently 
holds the whole together, and without which no novel can 
have any value. This essay exemplifies in a striking 
manner the fact, that the reader must keep himself in a 
very active productive mood, if he wishes to partake of any 
genuine production whatever.* Of passive participation, 
I have again unhappily witnessed the saddest examples, 
and it is ever but a repetition of the refrain ; " in my head 
it will not go !" Of a truth, the head takes in no work of 
art, but in company with the heart. 

Thus, recently, some one wrote to me that the passage 
in the second book, page 138, "No! he exclaimed, thou 
imaginest, thou withered worldling, that thou canst be a 
friend. All that thou canst offer me is not worth the feel- 
ing that binds me to these unfortunates !" — he had taken 
as the central point of the whole, and that from it he had 
drawn his circle, but that the last part didn't fit thereto, 
and he could make nothing of it. 

Thus, another assured me that my Idyl was an admira- 
ble poem, only it wasn't quite clear to him, whether I 
shouldn't do better to divide it into two or three poems. 

Are not such utterances enough to freeze Hippocrene to 

* Wordsworth, in one of his Prefdces, has a passage singularly 
coincident with this. 



ice, and make Pegasus shed his coat! However, hve and 
twenty years since, when I began, 'twas just the same, 
and will be so long after I shall be gone. Meanwhile, it is 
not to be denied that it does nevertheless look as if certain 
views and principles, without which one ought never to 
approach a work of art, must by degrees become more 

Meyer sends kindest regards from Florence ; he has at 
last received the Idyl ; it were well if, through Cotta and 
Escher, we could transmit to him an entire Almanac. 

I hope that the people of Copenhagen and all enlighten- 
ed inhabitants of the North Sea, will, out of our Xcnia, 
draw anew argument in favor of the real and incontroverti- 
ble existence of the Devil, whereby we shall then have 
done them an essential service. It is, on the other hand, 
very distressing, that their invaluable liberty of being A^apid 
and shallow, should be embittered in so unfriendly a way. 

Korner's essay, I should think, is very well suited 
for the Horcn. The light and yet so excellent style in 
which the whole is treated, will make the contortions, 
that are to be expected from other critics, appear so much 
the more extravagant. 

For the rest it is highly necessary that I should see you 
soon ; there is much to be talked over. I wdsh very much 
to be informed of your progress with Wallenstein. 

Farewell, and give my regards to all friends. 

Weimar, 19 Nov., 179G. 





JiNA, 22d November, 1796. 

Probably to-morrow you will see Humboldt, who goes 
to Erfurt for a few days. He wishes much to be able to 
pass the evening with you. 

You have perhaps seen the new number of the " Ar- 
chive of the Times," which contains a sally upon you b 
old Klopstock. It has vexed him that in your epigrams 
the last year, you complain of being obliged to write Ger- 
man, and he vents his displeasure in an epigram, which is 
in truth very lamentable. It is inserted in a continuation 
of his grammatic dialogues, and " Judgment !" thus 
speaks : 

" Goethe, thou pitiest thyself that thou writest me ? 

If thou knewest me, 
This were not hateful to thee. (?oethe, I pity thee too 1" 

Humboldt will tell you also of a review by the younger 
Schlegel of Woldemar, and of a fulminating letter of 
Jacobi on this review, that will very much amuse you. 

But when shall we see you once more here ? I heartily 
long to do so ; it is to me as if there were wanting some 
thing of the element in which I am to live. 

I have a visit and must close. Farewell. 



On a card accompanying this you will find some re- 
marks on the Xenia — perhaps you can yet make use o 

The Humboldts will return hither from Erfurt on Tues- 
day, and will dine with me ; I wish you could make up 



your mind to come over on that day with your dear wife. 
You could remain the night here and drive back again 
with Humboldt on Wednesday. The present weather 
requires almost so heroic an undertaking. 

As I do not see that I shall be able very soon to pass 
some time with you, I will come perhaps only for a day ; 
for there are a vast many things in which I discover the 
want of your participation. 

I enclose a letter from Humboldt, that will give you 
pleasure. It is truly cheering to have such sympathizing 
friends and neighbors ; out of my own circle I have never 
yet met with anything of the kind. Farewell, and think 
of my invitation. 

Weimar, 26th November, 1796. 



Jena, 28th November, 1796. 

I SHALL hardly be able to avail myself of your friendly 
invitation, for in all my nerves I feel this wretched season 
and weather, and can just keep myself up. In amends 
for this, I hope to see you soon if only for a day, to hear 
from you your latest discoveries and observations, and at 
the same time to tell you what I have been about. 

Wallenstein gets on just now very slowly, because I am 
still occupied chiefly with the raw material, which is not 
yet all collected, but I continue to feel myself equal to it, 
and I have obtained many distinct definite views as to the 
form. What I wish, and what I ought, also what I have, 
is now tolerably clear to me ; the only thing now is, with 
what is in me and what I have, to execute that which I 
wish and ought. In regard to the spirit in which I work, 




you will probably be satisfied with me. I shall have no 
difficulty in keeping the material out of myself and in 
giving only the object. I might almost say, that the sub- 
ject doesn't interest me at all, and I have never united in 
myself such a coldness for the matter with such a warmth 
for the work. The principal character, as well as most 
of the subordinate ones, I treat so far really with the pure 
love of the Artist ; only in the character next to the prin- 
cipal one, young Piccolomini, do I feel personally inte- 
rested, whereby, however, the whole will rather gain 
than lose. 

With regard to the dramatic action, as the chief thing, 
I have not yet the thoroughly ungrateful and unpoetic ma- 
terial quite under subjection ; there are still chasms in the 
conduct of the piece, and there is much that will not let 
itself be shut up within the limits of the economy of a 
tragedy. Neither is the Proton Pscudos in the catastro- 
phe, owing to which a tragic development is so difficult, 
entirely overcome. Fate proper, does too little towards 
the misfortune of the hero, and his own fault too much. 
Here, however, I am in some measure consoled by the ex- 
ample of Macbeth, whose Fate likewise is much less to 
blame than he himself for his ruin. 

But of these and other difficulties verbally. 

Humboldt's comments on Körner's letter seem to me 
not unimportant, although, as regards the character of 
Meister, he appears to go too far on the opposite side. 
Körner looks upon this character as too much the proper 
hero of the Novel ; the title and the ancient usage of re- 
quiring a hero in every novel, have misled him. Wilhelm 
Meister is indeed the most necessary person, but not the 
most important; this is one of the very peculiarities of 



your Novel, that it neither has nor needs any such most 
important person. To him and around him everything 
happens, but not strictly on his account. Because the 
things around him represent and express the active ener- 
gies of the world, but he represents the susceptibility to 
outward influences, he must therefore stand towards his 
fellow-characters in a totally different relation from that of 
the hero in other novels. 

On the other hand, I think Humboldt very unjust 
towards this character, and I do not understand how he 
can regard the task which the author proposed to himself 
in the Novel as ended, if Meister were the heedless and 
unprincipled being that he pronounces him to be. If in 
Meister humanity itself in its entire compass is not sum- 
moned and put into play, then is the Novel not complete, 
and if Meister himself is not altogether competent to this, 
then you ought not to have chosen this character. It is 
indeed a delicate and holy circumstance for the Novel, 
that in the person of Meister it closes neither with a de- 
cided individuality, nor with a realized ideality, but with a 
middle something between the two. The character is in- 
dividual, but only as to its limitations, and not as to its 
compass, and it is ideal, but only as to its capability. 
Accordingly, it denies us the immediate satisfaction which 
we ask (definiteness), and promises us a higher and the 
highest, for which we must trust it to a remote future. 

It is comical enough how in such a product so much 
conflict of judgments is possible. 

Farewell, and give our regards to the Humboldts. 





I SPENT yesterday very pleasantly with the Humboldts, 
and until towards noon entertained the hope of seeing you 
here. If, meanwhile, those hours passed profitably and 
agreeably to you also, I am rejoiced ; may it continue so 
until you attain your object. 

Starke promises me copies to-day, and I hope to send 
them with this. 

Burgsdorf made a favorable impression on me in his 
behavior and the little he spoke. 

A new work of Madame de Stael, De VInfluence des 
Passions, (fee, is very interesting ; it is written in the 
constant view of a wide and great world in which she has 
lived, and full of genial, delicate, and bold remarks. 

WaiMAR, 30th Nov., 1796. 



Very fine sledding in this glorious weather has pre- 
vented me from writing to you for some days, and I now 
say a few words to you in the evening of a very fair day. 

The work of Mad. de Stael, of which Mr. v. Humboldt 
will have told you, I will send you in a few days. It is 
extremely interesting to see how one of so much sensi- 
bility and ardor passes through the terrible purgatory of 
such a revolution, in which she was obliged to participate 
so largely, and I may say comes out with nothing left in 
her but the most spiritual human qualities. Perhaps a 
selection might be made of the highest thoughts in a 
series, and used for the Horen, or only a single chapter 
be taken, but soon ; for, by Easter, a translation will cer- 
tainly be out. This I leave to your judgment. 

Although I presume that the malice of our guests 



will have supplied Jena with copies of the accompanying, 
I nevertheless send you mine. It is amusing to see what 
it is that has offended this kind of people, what they be- 
lieve offends others, how hollow, empty and common they 
esteem an existence different from their own, how they 
direct their shafts against the outworks of appearances, 
how little they even dream in what an inaccessible castle 
that man lives who is always in earnest in regard to him- 
self and everything around him. 

So many circumstances and relations chain me here 
still, as I shouldn't now like to come to you without re- 
maining at least some days with you. The theatre is just 
getting under way, through the means of some good 
pieces and representations, and a new regulation for its 
management requires my presence. 

I also expect young Jacobi about this time, and shall be 
obliged therefore to forego for a while yet the inspiriting 
effect of personal contact with you. 

For the rest, things go their usual way, and I have good 
hopes in several departments of my studies. Give my 
best regards to the Humboldts, and tell me soon how you 
are, and how your work prospers. 

Weimar, 5th Dec, 1796. 



Jena, 6th Dec, 1796. 

I HAVE again almost entirely lost several days through 
bad sleep, and find myself thereby very unpleasantly inter- 
rupted in my work, which otherwise makes good progress. 
An occupation like that I am now on irritates one who is 
of a susceptible morbid nature the more powerfully, be- 
cause it shakes the whole man more thoroughly and con- 



The day before yesterday I had a half hope of seeing 
you here, I am very sorry for the new postponement. If 
when you do come you could then but stay the longer ! 

The dirty production against us, whose author is said to 
be M. Dyk, in Leipsig, came into my hands a few days 
ago. I hoped it would remain unknown to you. The 
resentment of certain people can indeed find no nobler 
utterance ; but only in Germany were it possible that 
malice and rudeness could count upon not forfeiting all 
readers by such a treatment of respected names. Where 
there is no shame, one ought to be able to rely upon fear 
to hold such culprits in check ; but the police is as badly 
constituted as taste. 

The unpleasant part of the affair is this, that the very 
wise moderate gentlemen, however incapable they be of 
taking such a work under their protection, will neverthe- 
less exult and say, that our attack produced it, and that, at 
bottom, we are the cause of the scandal. 

For the rest, these distichs are the most shining justifi- 
cation of ours, and there is no help for him who does not 
now perceive that the Xcnia are a poetic production. 
Coarseness and offensiveness could not be more clearly 
distilled from genius and bad humor than has here been 
done, and the whole Dykian party has now the disadvan- 
tage of having gone infinitely farther in the only thing 
with which they could at all have reproached us. I am 
now curious whether some voices will not spontaneously 
be liftÄl up for the Xcnia ; for we, of course, can take no 
notice of a thing like this. 

I await whh curiosity the work of Mad. de Stael. It 
would give an advantageous variety to the Horcn, if we 
extract what is most piquant and pithy. 



We shall apparently be very successful with Agnes von 
Lilien ; for all the voices that I have been able to gather 
here pronounce themselves in its favor. Could you, 
however, believe it, that our great critics here, the Schle- 
gels, have not for an instant doubted that it is by you ? 
Nay, Madame Schlegel thinks that you have never yet 
created so pure and perfect a female character, and she 
admits that her opinion of you has been very much elevat- 
ed by this production. Others seem to be quite otherwise 
edified by it than by the fourth volume of Meister. I 
have not yet been able to make up my mind to dispel this 
happy illusion. 

Farewell, and do not allow yourself to be disturbed in 
your tranquillity either by this unexpected present, or by 
that insolence. What is, is, and what is to be, will not 
fail to come. 

We all send you hearty good wishes. 



The work of Madame de Stael accompanies this ; I 
am sure it will delight you. I have also already had the 
notion that it might be used for the Horen ; it were 
perhaps practicable to string together the most remarkable 
passages. Do you therefore read the book with pencil 
in hand, and make your remarks, and beg Mr. Humboldt to 
do the same ; thereby my work of selection will be facili- 
tated ; so soon as I get it back I can begin. A pa?ltage 
of Cellini is ready, if you need it. 

I also send another Elegy, for which I desire your ap- 
proval. At the same time that I announce therein my new 
poem, I design to begin with it a new book of Elegies. 




The second will probably contain a longing to go over the 
Alps a third time, and thus I will proceed further either at 
home or on the journey. 

With this I should like you to open the new year of 
the Horen, in order that people may see that we in 
every way stand firm, and are prepared for every event. 

To me, who have known the Germans so long, there 
was nothing peculiar in the Dykian attack. We may ex- 
pect more of the same kind. The German sees only 
matter, and thinks that if for a poem he gives matter, 
he is even with it ; his idea of form reaches no further 
than the metre. 

To be candid, however, the conduct of these people is 
altogether what I wish ; for it is a policy not sufficiently 
known and practised, that whoever makes pretension to 
any posthumous fame, should force his contemporaries to 
out with whatever they have against him. The impres- 
sion made thereby he always effaces by his presence, his 
life and activity. Of what avail was it to many a discreet, 
meritorious, and clever man, whom 1 have outlived, that, 
through incredible compliance, passiveness, flattery, ad- 
vancing and retiring, he obtained a tolerable reputation 
during his life ? The instant he is dead, the devil's 
attorney plants himself by the side of the corpse, and the 
angel, who is there to be his counterpart, wears mostly a 
very sorrowful visage. 

I hope that the Xenia will continue operating for a 
long ^hile, and keep alive the evil spirit against us ; in 
the mean time we will proceed with our positive labors, 
and leave to it the torment of negation. Not until they 
are again perfectly quiet, and think themselves safe, must 
we (if the humor holds) once more stir up their bile from 
the very bottom. 



Let me have as long as possible the honor of passing 
for the author of Agnes von Lilien. It is a pity that we 
don't live in darker times ; for then posterity vi^ould have 
a fine library under my name. Some one assured me, the 
other day, that he had lost a considerable bet, because he 
obstinately maintained that I was the author of Mr. 

With me, too, one day follows the other, not indeed un- 
occupied, but, I'm sorry to say, almost without profit. I 
must make an arrangement to change my sleeping room, 
in order that I may dictate in bed in the morning some 
hours before day. May you likewise find the means 
better to employ time, which is only truly precious to more 
highly organized natures ! Farewell, and give my regard 
to all around you. 

Weimar, 7th Dec, 1796. 



Jena, 9th Dec, 1796. 

Thanks for what you sent the day before yesterday. 
The Elegy makes a peculiar, deep, affecting impression, 
which cannot miss every reader's heart who has one. Its 
close reference to a definite existence gives it additional 
emphasis, and the elevated, sweet repose mingles so 
beautifully with the passionate color of the moment. It is 
to me a new and most encouraging illustration of how the 
poetic spirit so quickly and so successfully overmasters 
whatever is common in the reality, and by a swing, which 
it gives itself, is at once clear of such fetters, so that com- 
mon souls can only look after it with hopeless despair. 

One thing only I suggest to you, whether the present 



moment is entirely favorable for the publication of the 
poem. In the next two or three months, I fear, the pub- 
lic will not be in a mood to do justice to the Xenia. The 
supposed insult is still too fresh ; we are believed to be in 
the wrong, and this feeling in readers will harden them. 
It cannot however but happen that our antagonists, by their 
violence and coarseness, will put themselves at a still 
greater disadvantage, and excite against them the better 
disposed. Then I think would be the time when the 
Elegy would complete the triumph. 

How far the quiver against us is from being exhausted, 
you have another proof in the accompanying sheet, ap- 
pended to the New Hamburg Gazette, and which has been 
sent to me from Hamburg. The plan of this repartee is 
not badly conceived, were it not so unskilfully executed. 
Is, pörhaps, Reichardt, or Baggesen, at the bottom of it ? 

What you say in your last letter of the higher and more 
remote advantages of such contests with contemporaries, 
may be quite true ; but yet one sacrifices thereby tran- 
quillity and incitement from without. With you this is 
merely an inward, and certainly not an outward want. 
Your so peculiar, isolated, and energetic individuality re- 
(juires, as it were, this exercise ; but otherwise, I know 
really of no one who has less need than you of insuring 
his life with posterity. 

The work of De Stael I have not been able to take in 
hand until to-day ; it however immediately interested me 
through some admirable ideas. Whether any use can bo 
made of it for the Haren, I doubt, because a few days 
since I heard announced as on the eve of appearing a 
translation of it, which is said to have been caused by the 
authoress herself. 



Herewith I send a copy of the new edition of the 
Almanac, together with a note from Voss. 

May the Muse abide with you with her choicest gifts, 
and long preserve to her glorious friend his youth ! I am 
still in the Elegy ; whoever has any afhnity whatever with 
you, perceives therein so vividly your existence, your pe- 
culiar self. 

I embrace you with all my heart. 



Mv best thanks for the copy of the second edition which 
you sent me ; it looks very well, and probably will not stay 
on hand. 

That you enjoy the Elegy is very agreeable to mc ; I 
conjecture that some companions will soon follow it. As 
regards the printing, I leave that entirely to your judgment ; 
I am quite content that it be not made public for some 
time. I shall in the mean time communicate it in manu- 
script to friends and well-wishers ; for 1 know from expe- 
rience, that, although in the midst of conflict and excite- 
ment, enemies are not to be converted, there is, however, 
cause for confirming friends. 

I have been given to understand that something is soon 
to appear in favor of the Almanac ; but in what form or 
character I do not know. I observe generally that it is a 
speculation of booksellers to have anything printed pro or 
contra. That will be a fine collection ! 

The manner in which Voss behaves in regard to the 
Almanac pleases me well ; I am very glad that he is 

I expect a speedy answer to my letter of yesterday. 



Diderot's work will not fail to entertain you. Farewell. 
Kind greetings to all, and retain for me your so well- 
grounded friendship, and your so beautifully felt love, and 
be assured of the like from me.* 

Weimar, 10th Dec , 1796. 



Only two words for to-day, as my Optics have taken away 
from me the whole morning. My exposition becomes more 
and more clear, and the whole simplifies itself incredibly, 
which is natural, as properly elementary phenomena are 
treated of. 

The Sunday letter I received and made use of ; I pre- 
sume that it will decide the matter, whereon I wish you 
joy beforehand. Farewell. I send herewith more frontis- 
pieces ; may the light Terpsichoref spring still further 
into the world to the vexation of all her enemies ! 

Weimar, 14th Dec, 1796. 



Yesterday and to-day I worked so diligently at Wal- 
lenstein that I forgot entirely that yesterday was the day 
for the carrier, and also to-day I only at the last moment 
recollected the post. 

* This sentence I translate word for word, in order not to weaken 
or modify such an utterance from a Goethe towards a Schiller. 

t In allusion to an engraving of Terpsichore prefixed to the Al- 



My best thanks for your friendly mediation in that affair, 
which makes me very comfortable for the future.* 
Thanks also for the Terpsichore. 
We all send hearty regards. 

J«NA, 14th Dec, 1796. 



That Wallenstein gets on bravely as you write is to be 
expected, and my hopes of him are the stronger now that 
he has begun to create himself, and I am glad that I shall 
find the first Act finished by the New Year. Sooner, how- 
ever, I shall not be able to come, as I have a journey 
before me, of which I will tell you further when it is 

The Optics go forward, although I at present pursue the 
study more as an occupation than as an amateur ; never- 
theless the papers are already in that state of preparation 
that it is not difficult to act upon them. Knebel takes an 
interest in the investigation, which is a great advantage to 
me, as thus I write for others as well as myself. For the 

* Allusion is here made, probably, to a pension bestowed by the 
Grand Duke of Weimar upon Schiller, in addition to his salary as 
Professor in the University of Jena. The " Sunday letter," men- 
tioned in the preceding note, refers, no doubt, to the same affair ; 
to which, also, allusion is made towards the end of letter 249, just 
before that warm expression of Goethe's feelings, which, with ten- 
der consideration, he chose the moment to make when he was 
doing his friend an important kindness, designing to kindle in Schil- 
ler a glow that would make his bosom too warm for any feeling of 

Schiller was put at his ease by this increase of income, obtained 
through the generous friendship of Goethe from the enlightened 
libei-ality of the Grand Duke. 



rest it is good chiefly as an exercise of the mind, a quieter 
of the passions, and a compensation for the passions, a 
Mad. de Stael has circumstantially explained. 

Send me her book back soon ; everybody is asking afte 
it. Use has already been made of it in the Mercury 
Diderot you can keep longer ; it is a splendid book, an 
almost says even more to the Poet than to the plastic Art 
ist, notwithstanding that it often waves before the latter 
powerful torch. 

Farewell. Regards to all. Our sledding is very gay 
Jacobi is with me ; he has cultivated himself right bravely 
More soon. 

Weimar, 17th Dee.,, 1796. 


December is going gradually by, and you don't come 
I shall begin soon to fear that we shall not see each othe 
again before the year ninety-seven. I am glad to lear 
that you have taken up Optics in earnest ; for I think tha 
this triumph over adversaries cannot be too much hastened 
For myself it will be agreeable to me to get a knowledg 
of this subject through your labors. 

My work advances with lively steps. I hav'n't found 
possible to separate the preparation and the plan from th 
execution so long as I in the beginning wished. So soo 
as the firm points were once settled, and I obtained in 
general way a steady view of the whole, I let myself g 
and thus were several scenes in the first Act at once exe 
cuted without my having strictly such an intent. M 
perception grows daily clearer, and one thing leads 



Towards Twelfth Night, I think, the first Act, which 
will be also by much the longest, will be so far done, that 
you will be able to read it ; for, before I venture further, I 
should like to know whether it is the good spirit that leads 
me. An evil one it is not, that I am sure of, but between 
the two there are so many degrees. 

After mature deliberation I have kept to dear prose 
which also suits this material much better. 

Farewell. With us all are tolerably well. 



The work of Mad. de Stael has arrived, and shall go 
back again so soon as the curiosity of friends is satisfied. 
You will see Knebel, and find him very sprightly ; he is 
helping me on at present in a most friendly way with my 
optical labors ; I am just now drawing the plates, and as 
everything is here narrowed down, I discover a fuller ma- 
turity. I have made a hasty sketch of the Preface ; I will 
communicate it to you soon, to hear whether you approve 
of the manner in which I have handled it. 

I send back Boie's letter ; I am very glad that he sur- 
renders to me Cellini ; I will in return give him a good 
copy of my Novel, and write him besides a friendly letter. 

I am happy to hear that the Elegy has made a favorable 
impression on Körner. On the whole, however, I am 
convinced that your remark is just, that it is not yet time 
to make it public : I have been very sparing of it also in 

On the third day of the holidays I go with the Duke to 
Leipsig. Say nothing about this to any one except Hum- 
boldt, and ask this friend whether he advises me to see 



any Other person besides Professor Lewis and Mr. Fisher. 
As we shall probably go to Dessau, we shall not return 
under twelve or fourteen days ; if, therefore, you wish 
anything of me before I set out, have the goodness to let 
me know soon. 

As my poor subject* will have to endure all kinds of 
suffering on this tour, in particular physically, I hope to be 
enriched by a variety of new objects. 

My Anatomy of Fishes and Worms has again, in the 
last few days, given rise to some very fruitful ideas. 

Farewell, and enter the New Year full of activity, and 
continue to gain ground in the dramatic field. January, 
too, must not pass without our seeing each other. Mean- 
while farewell. 

The Schlegels will probably tell of a large purely literary 
entertainment at which they assisted. 

Weimar, 21st December, 1796. 



Leipsig, 1st January, 1797. 

Before I leave this I must give some sign of life, and a 
brief account of myself. After we had, on the 28th De- 
cember, struggled through the wind on the Ettersberg and 
arrived at Buttelstedt, we found a very tolerable road, and 
passed the night in Rippach. On the 29th, by eleven 
o'clock, we were in Leipsig, and have in the meantime 
seen a quantity of people, have been invited to dinners and 
suppers, and I escaped with difficulty the one-half of this 
kindness. There were some very interesting men among 
the crowd ; I have also seen some old friends and ac- 




quaintance, as well as some admirable works of art, which 
have washed out my eyes again. 

We have now a hard New Year's Day to get through, in 
which, in the morning early, a Cabinet is to be examined, 
at noon a great banquet to be eaten, in the evening a con- 
cert to be attended, and thereupon a long supper is also 
unavoidable. When we get home, about one o'clock, we 
have before us, after a short sleep, the journey to Dessau, 
which, on account of the great thaw that has just set in, 
is in some measure hazardous ; nevertheless, that also we 
shall get through safely. 

So much as I rejoice that after this dissipation I shall 
soon go back to you in your Jena solitude, I am yet glad 
once more to behold such a mass of people, with whom I 
have properly no relation. I have been enabled to make 
many good observations on the workings of dogmatic, po- 
lemic, and belles-lettres writings, and the promised coun- 
ter-manifesto* will not be the worse for it. 

Fare you right well. As we go so early as to-morrow 
to Dessau, it looks as if the journey altogether will not 
last too very long. 

Tell Mr. Humboldt that I have seen Dr. Fisher, and 
have been right well pleased with him. The shortness of 
the days, and the very bad thawing weather prevent me 
from making as much of my stay as I would wish ; yet one 
finds accidentally much that one seeks for in vain. Fare 
you once more well, cheerful and diligent. 


* A rejoinder to a new attack, on the part of Reichardt, proposed 
^by Schiller in the preceding letter, 257, which I have omitted. 





After a fortnight's absence I am safely returned, very 
well satisfied with my journey, on which I met with much 
that was agreeable and nothing disagreeable. I have a 
great deal to tell of it, and so soon as I shall have again 
put things a little in order here, I will come over to you, 
if even only for a day. Unhappily I cannot come at once, 
however much I desire to speak to chief-counsellor-of- 
mines Humboldt. Greet both brothers most kindly, and 
say that I will immediately make arrangements to procure 
for Mr. Gentsch the specified books. 

I much desire to see you again, for I shall soon be in 
the condition, that out of sheer matter I cannot write any 
more until we have seen one another again, and had a 
right thorough talk. 

The journey brought me in nothing poetical, except 
that I have entirely planned the conclusion of my epic 
poem. Write me what in the meanwhile the Muse has 
vouchsafed to you. Greet your dear wife, and tell me how 
the little ones are. 

Weimar, 11th January, 1797. 

It is very odd about that book that Counsellor Schlegel 
brought with him to me. Some one of the friends present 
at the time must have put it in his pocket, for I have not 
seen it since and thence forgotten it ; I will immediately 
send round to find out where it is. When you see Schle- 
gel, tell him that I have a compliment to bring him from 
a right pretty woman, who seemed to take a very lively 
interest in him. 





I HAVE just received your dear letter, which heartily 
rejoices me with the news of your return. To me, this 
time of your absence from Jena lasts indescribably long ; 
although I have had no lack of conversation, still I have 
missed just the kind of invigoration I most need at my 
work. Do come as soon as you can. I, to be sure, have 
not gathered much that I could impart, but therefore the 
more eagerly and needily shall I receive whatever I can 
hear from you. 

We are all as well as we are wont to be ; I have been 
by no means idle, although in these oppressive dismal 
winter days everything ripens later, and the right form is 
harder to find. Meanwhile, I see clearly before me, and 
my material becomes more and more yielding. The first 
condition of a successful progress in my work, is a lighter 
air and exercise ; I am therefore resolved, with the first 
stirrings of spring, to change my place of abode, and to 
look out for a summer-house, if possible in Weimar, with 
rooms that can be heated. This is now an urgent want 
to me, and if I can combine this end with a more frequent 
and easier communication with you, my wishes are for 
the present satisfied. I think that I shall be able to 
efi'ect it. 

The Reichardt affair I have for some time past put out 
of my mind, because with respect to it I will gladly ac- 
quiesce in your advice. It came upon me in the close air 
of a small room, and everything that happens to me must 
contribute to make this vexation still more onerous to me. 

But Wieland will now likewise come out against the 
Xenia, as you will see by the first number of the " Mer- 
cury." Now, it would be unpleasant if he were to force us 



to a conflict with him too, and it is a question whether it 
would not be well to remind him of the consequences. 

Your commissions shall be attended to. I send here 
with the twelfth number of the Horen ; the other copie 
will come the day after to-morrow. 

We all embrace you cordially. 

Jena, 11th January, 1797. 



Jena, 17th January, 1797. 

I AM just about to leave off work, and will say good 
evening to you before laying aside my pen. Your las 
visit, even short as it was, has removed a certain stagna- 
tion in me, and raised my courage. Through your de 
scriptions you have led me again into the world, from 
which I felt myself entirely separated. 

But, especially am I rejoiced at your lively inclination 
to a continued poetic activity. Through this a freshe 
and more beautiful life opens before you, and to me, like 
wise, not only in work, but also through the mood int 
which it will put you, will it impart itself, and quicken 
me. I should wish particularly to know now the chro 
nology of your works ; it would surprise me, if, in the 
developments of your being, a certain necessary course o 
nature in man generally were not traceable. You must 
have had a certain, not very short, epoch, which I might 
call your analytic period, wherein through division and 
separation you struggled towards wholeness ; wherein 
your being was as it were fallen out with itself and sought 
to reinstate itself again through Art and Science. 

Now, it seems to me, you returii cultivated and ripe 
back to your youth, and will unite the fruit with the bios 



som. This second youth is the youth of the gods, and 
immortal, like them. 

Your small and large Idyl, and also lately your Elegy, 
show this, as well as the old Elegies and Epigrams. I 
should like, however, to know the history of the earlier 
works, of Meister itself. It will be no lost labor to write 
down what you know about them. Without this one can- 
not get to know you entirely. Pray, therefore, do it, and 
also deposit with me a copy thereof. 

If anything falls into your hands about the Lenzian 
inheritance, remember me. We must scrape together 
whatever we find for the Horen. With your altered plan 
for the future, perhaps you can let the Horen have the 
benefit likewise of the Italian papers. 

I beg you also to think of Cellini, that I may have it 
in about three weeks. 

The answer to friend Reichardt, I beg you also not 
entirely to forget. 

Fare you right well. 



The few hours that I spent recently with you, have 
made me eager for a good long time together after our old 
fashion. So soon as I have in some measure got through 
with various things here, and arranged others, I will 
spend again some time with you, which, as I hope, will 
be in more than one sense fruitful for us both. Don't fail to 
profit by your best hours to bring the Tragedy further, in 
order that we may begin to discourse about it together. 

I have just received your dear letter, and do not deny, 
that the wonderful epoch into which I am entering is to 



me myself very remarkable ; unhappily, I am not yet en- 
tirely at ease in regard to it, for, of the analytic period, I 
drag along with me still so much that I cannot get rid of, 
and scarcely can work off. Meanwhile, nothing is left for 
me but to steer my vessel on this stream as well as it will 
go. What the effect is of a journey in such a disposition, 
I have already seen in the last fourteen days. Mean- 
while, as to the distant and the whole, nothing can be pre- 
dicted, as this regulated power of Nature, like all unregu- 
lated ones, can be guided by nothing in the world, but, 
just as it must form itself, so likewise it operates out of 
itself, and in its own way. This phenomenon will give 
us occasion for many reflections. 

The promised article is so ripe, that I could dictate it 
in an hour ; it is necessary, however, that I first talk with 
•you again about the affair, and I shall the more hasten to 
be with you again soon. Should a longer stay in Jena be 
not possible, I will come soon again for a day ; a short 
meeting of this kind is always very fruitful. 

I am correcting now a division of Cellini. If you have 
a copy of that which is expected in the next number, I beg 
you to send it to me. 

I close for this once, and wish you farewell. 

Weimar, 18th Jan., 1797. 



Jena, 24th January, 1797. 

Only two words for to-day. I hoped, after your last 
letter, to have seen you here some days since. These 
few fair days have tempted me again into the air and done 
me good. My work, however, gets on at present slowly, 
because I am just in the most difficult crisis. I see now 



clearly, that I cannot show you anything until niy own 
mind is fully made up upon every part. You cannot put 
me at one with myself, but you shall help me to put my- 
self in harmony with the object. Therefore what I lay 
before you must be my whole ; I don't mean my whole 
piece, but my Avhole idea of it. The radical difference of 
our natures in regard to manner, admits of no other truly 
profitable communication than when the whole confronts 
the whole ; it is true that in details I shall not be able 
to lead you astray, because you rest more firmly upon your- 
self than I do, but you would be able easily to overturn 
me. But more of this verbally. 

Do come right soon. I send herewith the latest of 
Cellini which was recently forgotten. 

All greet you. Humboldt's wife suffers much in her 
confinement, and it will be wearisome. 




Sunday, 29th January, 1797. 

At least a hasty sheet shall be dedicated to you this 
evening, in order that you may know in general how I am 
getting on. 

I have this week brought about several important con- 
tracts. First, I have succeeded in getting Demoiselle 
Jagamann for the Court here and the Theatre ; she is en- 
gaged as Court-singer, and will often sing in the operas, 
whereby our stage acquires quite a new life. Further, I 
have also disposed of my epic poem,* on which occasion 
some pleasant incidents occurred. 

Herrmann and Dorothea. 



That in such circumstances no aesthetic mood is to be 
thought of, you will easily understand ; meanwhile the 
tables of colors unite themselves together better and 
better, and in observations of organic beings I have not 
been idle ; in these long nights quite extraordinary lights 
shine in on me ; I hope they wont turn out to be jack- 

Give many greetings to Humboldt, and beg him to par- 
don me that I have not yet sent the books relating to Italy ; 
they shall come on Wednesday. 

Of Xenial matters I have for some time heard nothing ; 
in the world in which I live, nothing literary resounds 
either before or after the blow ; the moment of striking is 
the only one that is noted. In a few days I shall know 
whether I can come to you for a longer time, or whether 
.1 shall make again only a momentary visit. 

Farewell ; greetings from me to all around you, and 
stick to Wallenstein as much as you possibly can. 




Jena, 31st January, 1797. 

I WISH you joy of the good acquisition for the opera, 
and in regard to the epic work, I hope you have fallen 
into good hands. The work will have a brilliant sale, 
and with such writings the publisher ought not reasonably 
to seek to make a profit, but content himself with honor. 
He can grow rich with bad books. 

As we are speaking of mercantile matters, let me com- 
municate to you an idea that I have just now much at 
heart. I am now obliged to hurry in the choice of our 
abode, as a summer-house is for sale here, which would 



suit me, if I wished to continue to live here. As I must 
have a view upon a garden, and such an opportunity could 
scarcely again occur, I must decide at once. 

But now there are various out-weighing reasons why I 
would rather reside in Weimar, and could I there find a 
dwelling of the same kind, I should prefer it. According 
to all the inquiries that I have had made, this will be diffi- 
cult. As you lately spoke of your summer-house, and 
thought it had room enough, I should like to know if you 
could perhaps spare it for a longer time and regularly let 
it to me. It is besides a pity that it stands there without 
giving any interest, and I would thereby be helped very 

Were you Aot indisposed to it, and the house were in 
the essential things fit for a summer and winter habitation, 
we could easily agree upon the changes that might still be 

As regards the garden, I would answer for my people 
that nothing should be injured. 

The distance would not frighten me : for my wife an 
outward necessity to take exercise is very healthful, and 
as it regards myself, I hope, after some trials in the open 
air, to be able also to rely more on myself. 

For the present I would wish merely to know whether 
you would be inclined for such an arrangement ; the rest 
would then depend on a nearer examination. 

Farewell. All send regards. 



At last you receive from me once more a contribution, 
and indeed a pretty thick package of Cellini ; now there is 




bill one left, and I wish that we may again hit upon some- 
thing as good. I add also some Lenziana. Whether and 
how some of this is to be used, you will judge. At all 
events, let these strange sheets lie until we shall have once 
more talked thereon. 

My summer-house would be entirely at your service, 
but it is only a summer residence for a few persons. As 
1 myself lived in it for so long a time, and also know your 
mode of living, I can say with certainty that it will not 
lodge you, the rather as I have had the wash-kitchen and 
wood-house torn down, which to a somewhat larger 
household are absolutely indispensable. There are other 
circumstances relating to it which I will tell you verbally. 

The garden in Jena to be sold is that of Schmidt, is it 
not 1 If it is habitable, you ought to take it. When once 
your brother-in-law is established here, one could be on 
the look-out for a vacant lodging, and as real estate is 
constantly rising, you could always get rid of it again 
without loss. At present, such quarters as you wish are 
in no way to be found. 

From Rome I have received an extraordinary essay, 
which will perhaps do for the Horen. Its author is the 
formerly so-called painter, Mueller, and it is directed 
against Fernow. In the principles which he sets up, he 
is quite right, he says much that is sound, true and good ; 
the essay is also in parts well written, but is upon the 
whole somewhat feeble, and in individual passages the 
mark is not quite hit. I am having the little work copied, 
and will then give it to you. As he wishes to be named, 
it could therefore be printed with his name, and at the end 
a note be added, Avhereby one Avould take a middle position, 
and open a kind of pro and contra. Mr. Fernow might 



then express his rightful needs in the Mercury, Mr. 
Mueller in the Horen^ and there would be an opportunity 
to show up with a few words the various sillinesses which 
Mr. Fernow puts forth with great freedom in the Mercury. 

Thank Körner right well for the Duet he sent and the 
catalogue ; the former is already translated and in the 

Farewell. My winter sky is clearing up, and 1 hope 
to be with you soon ; everything goes on prosperously 
with me and I wish you the same, 

Weimar, ]st February, 1797. 



Jena, 2d Feb., 1797. 

You have quite revived me with the package of yes- 
terday, for I have never been in such a strait to keep the 
Horen afloat as now. The work of Painter Mueller will 
be very acceptable to me ; he certainly is an unexpected 
and new personage, and it will also help us very much if 
a controversy is opened in the Horen. The Lenziana, so 
far as I have looked into them, contain very odd stuff, but 
the re-appearance of this manner of feeling in these times 
will surely not be without interest, particularly as the 
death and the unhappy life of the author have extinguish- 
ed all envy, and these fragments must always have a bio- 
graphical and pathological value. 

As a successor of Cellini, Vieilleville would be very use- 
ful, only it would be necessary to make extracts instead of 
translating the whole. If you yourself don't wish to under- 
take it, and know of nothing else that has bulk, I will then 
go about Vieilleville, and beg you to send it to me forthat 



I am very sorry that my little plan in regard to your 
summer-house is not practicable. It will be against my 
will if I remain here ; for when Humboldt is once gone, I 
am entirely alone, and my wife likewise is without socie- 
ty. I will make one more effort and inquire whether the 
summer-house of Privy-Counsellor Schmidt is not for sale ; 
for even were it in its present condition not habitable, I 
could, were it my own, have it put in order, which is what 
I should have to do with that of Professor Schmidt here. 

Farewell, and come as soon as you can. 



After a very dusty and crowded ball, I can only say ar 
few words to you. 

In the first place, I send here the work of Painter 
Mueller copied ; I have not been able to look through it 
again, and therefore lay the original with it. As you 
don't want to use it immediately, we will confer about it 
together once more, and you must consider well whether 
something is to be done with the style. Unfortunately he 
compares himself with perfect justice to a spirit that 
speaks on compulsion, only he does not express himself 
so lightly and airily as Ariel. Much you will find is 
written altogether in accordance with our views, and also, 
imperfect as it is, such a public, unsought, unprepared 
conformity is valuable. After all it is just a stone which wc 
throw into our neighbor's garden ; if it makes a little rat- 
tling, what does it signify ? Even if there really is any- 
thing in Fernow, it must be brought out by opposition, for 
his German subjectivity sounds only the more marked and 
absurd from Rome. 



Secondly, I send you a Canto of a strange poem. As I 
know the author, this misleads me in judging. What say 
you ? Do you think he has poetic talent ? There is in 
it a certain free, graceful view of the world and a pretty 
youthfulness ; but to be sure all mere matter, and as it 
seems to me no trace of a comprehensive form. Suppos- 
ing that there were a poetic school, in which could be 
explained, at least, to the understanding of such a young 
man, the chief beauties and requirements of poetry, what 
do you believe could be drawn out of a nature like this ? 
At present I know not what advice to give him, except 
that he should make smaller things. 

My prospect for remaining with you for a longer time is 
again deferred. The establishing of Dem. Jagamann, and 
her introduction on the theatre, makes my presence highly 
necessary ; yet nothing shall easily prevent me from 
coming to you Sunday the 12th ; we shall have a full 
moon, and returning need not fear the rugged valley of the 

I will send Yieilleville, for I cannot undertake anything 
new. Perhaps the idea of a tale that has come into my 
head will unfold itself further. It is only too matter of 
fact, thence I don't altogether take to it ; if, however, I can 
give the little vessel a good chase on the ocean of the ima- 
gination, there will perhaps be a tolerable composition, 
which will please people better than if it were better. 
The tale with the little woman in the box smiles at me 
again sometimes, but it won't yet get quite ripe. 

For the rest all my wishes are now directed towards the 
completion of the Poem, and I am obliged forcibly to hold 
my thoughts back from it, in order that the details become 
not too distinct at moments when I cannot execute them. 



Fare you right well, and let me know something of your 
mood and your labors. 

Weimar, 4th February, 1797. 



7th February, 1797. 

These last carrier's days you have sent me such a 
wealth of things, that I have not been able to get through 
with the inspection of them, especially as on the one hand 
a garden that I am bargaining for, and on the other, a love- 
scene in my second Act, move my head in very different 

Meanwhile I have at once set about the paper of Painter 
Mueller, which, in a heavy and harsh diction, contains 
very much that is excellent, and after due alterations in 
the style, will make a capital contribution to the Horen. 

In the new piece of Cellini, I have heartily enjoyed my- 
self over the casting of the Perseus. The siege of Troy 
and of Mantua cannot be a greater event or be related more 
pathetically than this history. 

About the Epos which you sent me I shall be able to say 
more to you when you come. What I have already read 
in it, confirms to me your judgment. It is the production 
of a lively and flexible fancy, but this flexibility is stretched to 
such an extreme, that absolutely everything swims and 
melts away without one's being able to seize hold of anything 
of a permanent form. With this throughout predominant 
character of pleasant multifariousness and graceful play, I 
should have ascribed it to a female author had it fallen 
accidentally into my hands. It is rich in matter, and yet 
it seems to have remarkably little substance. Now I 
believe what I call substance can alone become capable of 



form ; what I here call matter appears to me to be hardly 
or never compatible therewith. 

No doubt you have now also read the Wielandian ora- 
tion against the Xenia. What say you to it ? Nothing is 
wanting but that it had appeared in the Imperial Gazette. 

Of my work and my mood for it I can just now say 
little, as I am in the crisis, and collect together the best 
that is in me in order to get well through it. In so far I 
am glad that the cause that prevents you from coming 
hither, falls just in this month, in which I have most need 
of isolating myself. 

Shall I send your Elegy to the press now, that it may 
come before the public in the beginning of April ? 

For the Tale I wish soon a right favorable mood. 
Farewell ; we rejoice that we shall see you on Sunday. 



I AM glad that you can await the aesthetic crisis in your 
secluded state ; I am like a ball that one hour throws to 
the other. In the early part of the day, I endeavor to ^ 
work at the last portion of Cellini. The casting of the 
Perseus is in truth one of the illuminated points, as is 
likewise the whole work at the statue, until at last nature, 
art, handicraft, passion, and accident, all are together in 
operation, and make as it were the work of art into a na- 
tural production. 

I am succeeding at present in some good observa- 
tions on the metamorphosis of insects. The caterpillars 
that changed to the chrysalis state last September in Jena 
come out now by degrees as butterflies, because I kept 
them in the winter in a warm room, and I try to surprise 



them on the way to this new transformation. If 1 only 
continue my observations one year more, I shall have run 
over a considerable space ; for I already find myself often 
again in perfectly well-known spots. 

I hope that the negociation for the summer-house may 
succeed. If you have any building to do on it, my advice 
is at your service. 

The Wielandian demonstration I have not yet seen, nor 
have I heard anything about it ; it is to be presumed that 
he has kept in the wholesome middle road. Farewell ; 
I hope still to come on Sunday; Saturday evening you 
shall know certainly. 

Weimar, 8th Feb., 1797. 



9th February, 1797. 

Within a few days I came across again the letter of 
Meyer, in which he describes the first part of his journey 
to Nürnberg. This letter pleases me much, and if three 
or four others could be added to it, it would make an agree- 
able contribution for the Horen, and Meyer might moreover 
take the few Louis d'or. I here send you the copy. 

A book by Nicolai has come out in Berlin against the 
Xenia ; I haven't, however, had a sight of it. 

I have now made a second offer for my Smith garden, 
1150 rix dollars, and hope to get it for 1200. It is at 
present merely a light summer-house, and will cost a hun- 
dred dollars more to be habitable even in summer ; but 
this improvement of my existence is worth everything to 
me. When I am once in possession, and you are here, 
Ave will beg you to advise and help us. 

All else verbally. I hope certainly to see you the day 
after to-morrow, but I send at any rate the Journal to-day. 




Pray have the enclosed delivered to Herder. 
The commission to my brother-in-law has been at- 
tended to. 



The Horen I have received, and thank you for the dis- 
patch. To-morrow I shall be with you, and wc can talk 
over many things together : I go away, indeed, in the 
evening, but hope in eight days to come again for a longer 

To that confounded Nicolai nothing could be more wel- 
come than to be only once more attacked ; with him is 
always bonus odor ex re qualibet, and the money that the 
volume brings in is not at all distasteful to him. These 
gentlemen, one and all, owe us thanks that we give them 
an opportunity to fill some sheets and to get paid for it, 
without great outlay of productive force. 

Don't fail to make sure of the garden ; I like the situa- 
tion much ; besides its pleasantness, it is moreover a very 
healthy spot. Fare you right well. 1 look forward with 
pleasure to to-morrow, I shall dine with you, but alone. 
Privy-Counsellor Voight, who comes with me, will stop 
at- Hufeland's, and in the afternoon we shall cross visits. 

Weimar, llth February, 1797. 



Out of the late variety and sociableness, I am all at 
once transplanted into the greatest solitude, and thrown 
back upon myself. Besides you and Humboldt, all female 
society has deserted me, and I employ this quiet in reflect- 



ing on my tragico-dramatic duties. At the same time I 
have planned a detailed scenarium of the entire Wallen- 
stein, in order to facilitate for me mechanically through 
the eyes the survey of the points of time and of the con- 
nection of the parts. 

I find, the more I reflect on my own work, and on th« 
mode of treatment in tragedy among the Greeks, that the 
whole cardo rci in art lies in the invention of a poetic fable 
The modern I'rets himself laboriously and anxiously with 
accidents and accessories, and in the struggle to get right 
close to reality, he burdens himself with the empty and in- 
significant, and thereby he runs the risk of losing deep- 
buried truth, wherein strictly lies all the poetical. He 
would like to imitate perfectly a real case, and does not 
reflect that a poetic representation never can coincide with 
the reality, for the very reason that it is absolutely true. 

Within a few days I have read Philoctetes and the 
Trachinian Women, and the latter with great enjoyment. 
How admirably is the whole situation, the feeling, the 
existence of Dejanira seized ! How ^tirely is she the 
housewife of Hercules ! How individual, how solely suited 
to this single case is this picture, and yet how deeply hu- 
man, how eternally true and universal ! In Philoctetes, 
likewise, everything is extracted from the situation that 
could be extracted from it, and yet by the side of this in- 
dividuality of circumstance, all at last reposes on the eter- 
nal ground of human nature. 

It struck me that the characters of the Greek Tragedy 
are more or less ideal masks and not genuine individuals, 
as I find them in Shakspeare and in your pieces. Thus, 
for example, Ulysses, in Ajax and in Philoctetes, is obvi- 
ously only the ideal of cunning, narrow-souled prudence, 



that is never embarrassed as to its means ; thus Crcon, in 
CEdipus and in Antigone, is merely cold, kingly dignity. 
With such characters in tragedy one succeeds evidently 
much better ; they unfold themselves more rapidly, and 
their features are more permanent and firmer. Truth 
suffers nothing thereby, because they are as opposite to 
mere logical entities as to mere individuals. 

I send you here, pour la bonne bouche, a most charming 
fragment out of Aristophanes, which Humboldt left me. 
It is delightful, 1 wish to have the rest of it also. 

A few days since I was surprised by a large magnificent 
sheet of parchment from Stockholm. I thought, as I opened 
the diploma with its great wax seal, that a pension at the 
least would jump out of it ; after all, it was merely a diplo- 
ma from the Academy of Sciences. However, it always 
gives pleasure when one extends his roots and sees his 
existence acting upon others. 

I hope soon to receive from you a new piece of Cellini. 

Fare you right well, my dear, my ever dear friend. I 
am still surrounded by the beautiful spirits which you left 
! me here, and I hope ever to become more familiar with 
them. Fare you right well. 

1 Jena, 4th April, 1797. 



With me it is just the reverse. Directly upon the col- 
lected life I had in Jena, I have been plunged into a 
diversified activity with all kinds of small afi'airs, which 
for a good while will pull me hither and thither ; mean- 
while I will do a variety of things, for which I don't 
require the purest mood. 



You are quite right that in the figures of ancient poetry, 
as in sculpture, there appears an abstractum, that can 
only attain its elevation through what is called style. 
There are also ahstracta through manner, as with the 
French. On the success of the Fable everything indeed 
depends ; one is safe as to the chief expenditure, the ma- 
jority of readers and spectators after all take in nothing 
else, and to the poet remains the whole merit of an ani- 
mated execution, which can be the better sustained the 
better the fable is. Therefore will we also, in future, test 
more carefully than hitherto what is to be undertaken. 

Here comes the first part of Vieilleville, the others I 
can send by degrees. 

Greet your dear wife ; unhappily 1 did not see her during 
her stay here. 

I congratulate you on the diploma ; such manifestations, 
as barometrical indices of public opinion, are not to be 

Farewell, and write me oftener ; although for a while I 
shall be a bad correspondent. 

Weimar, 5th April, 1797. 1 

Jena, 7th April, 1797.^ 

Among some cabalistic and astrological works which I 
have had out of the library here, I found a dialogue on 
Love, translated from the Hebrew into Latin, which has 
not only amused me very much, but has also advanced me 
greatly in my astrological knowledge. The mixture of 
chemical, mythological, and astronomical things, is here 
made on a grand scale, and is all ready for poetic use. 
Some remarkably ingenious comparisons of the planets' 



with human limbs I have had extracted for you. One has 
no idea of this kind of extravagance until one hears the 
people themselves. I am, however, not without hope of 
giving to this astrological material a poetic dignity. 

As to the subject of the treatment of characters, touched 
upon in my last, I shall be glad, when we next meet, with 
your help, to bring my ideas out fully and clearly. The 
matter rests on the inmost ground of art, and no doubt ob- 
servations drawn from the plastic arts can explain much 
in poetry. In Shakspeare, likewise, it was to me very 
striking to-day, as I went through Julius Caesar with 
Schlegel, how he treats the common people with such an 
uncommon greatness. Here, in representing the character 
of the people, the material itself forced him to have in his 
eye a poetical ahstractum rather than individuals, and 
therefore I find him here remarkably near to the Greeks. 
If to such a scene one were to brin^ too anxious a thouoht 
about imitation of the real, the mass and multitude would 
embarrass one not a little with their insignificance ; but 
with a bold grasp Shakspeare takes a few figures, I might 
say a few voices, out of the mass, and lets them pass for 
the whole people, and they really do pass for it, so happily 
has he chosen. 

A great service would be done to poets and artists, if it 
could only once be clearly settled what art should take 
from, or let drop from, reality. The ground would be 
better lighted and cleaner, the little and insignificant would 
disappear, and there would be room for the broad and 
great. Already in the treatment of history is this point 
of the greatest importance, and I know how much the un- 
defined notion in regard to it has given me to do. 

I long to receive soon some of Cellini, if possible in 



time for the April number, in which case I must have it 
in hand between to-day and Wednesday evening. 

Farewell, My wife sends best regards. T have to- 
day a heavy post-day, else I would write more. 



Mr. Humboldt, who doesn't go away until to-morrow 
morning, sends kindest greetings to you, and begs you to 
have the inclosed letter delivered immediately. 

Upon the last Cantos we have held a very strict proso- 
dian court, and purified them as much as was possible. 
The first will now soon be written anew, and look very 
neat with their double inscriptions. I hope to send them 
off next week. 

You shall also receive before Wednesday a part of 
Cellini, in twelve written sheets. There will then remain 
about six for the conclusion. 

For the rest I am in the midst of a good deal of con- 
fusion, and shall be able to effect little in the next fort- 

The astrological conjunctions of which you inform me 
are strange enough ; I am anxious to see what kind of use 
you will make of this material. 

I wish soon to talk over again with you further the sub- 
ject that interests us both so much. Those advantages 
whereof I availed myself in my last poem, I leamt all 
from plastic art. For in a work that stands bodily before 
my eyes, the whole visible at the same moment, what is 
superfluous is far more striking than in a work that passes 
before the eyes of the mind in the succession of time. In 
the Theatre one would perceive great advantage in this. 



Thus recently it struck me that on our stage, when groups 
are thought of, none other are ever produced but senti- 
mental or pathetic ones, although there are a hundred 
others that can be conceived. Within a few days some 
scenes in Aristophanes appeared to me precisely like an- 
tique bas-reliefs, and were no doubt represented in that 
sense. In the whole, and in details, all depends upon 
this, viz. : that everything be separated from every other 
thing, that no moment be like another ; as with charac- 
ters, that they be notably distinct from one another, but yet 
always belong to one species. 

Fare you well, and work right diligently. So soon as 
I get a little breathing time, I will think about the Alma- 

Weimar, 8th April, 1797. 



Jena, 12th April, 1797. 

I SAY to you only two words as a greeting. Our little 
Ernest has the small-pox fever very badly, and has much 
alarmed us to-day with frequent epileptic cramps ; we 
expect a very restless night, and I am not without fears. 

Perhaps to-morrow I shall be able to write more with a 
lightened heart. Farewell. My wife greets you kindly. 
Don't fail to send Cellini. 



May little Ernest soon get through the dangerous 
crisis, and relieve your anxiety. 

Here follows Cellini, who, in one more small contribu- 
tion, will soon take his final leave. Whilst looking into 



the patriarchal remains in the Old Testament, I have 
again been struck with astonishment at the confusion and 
the contradictions of the five books of Moses, which, to 
be sure, as it is well known, may have been put together 
out of a hundred different written and oral traditions. On 
the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness, I 
have made some quaint remarks, and the audacious 
thought has arisen in me, whether the long time they are 
said to have passed in it be not of a later invention. I 
will take an opportunity of communicating to you, in a 
small Essay, what has brought me to this idea. 

Fare you well, and greet Humboldt with the delivery of 
the accompanying Berlin Monthly Journal, and give me 
soon good news of you and yours. 

Weimar, 12th April, 1797. 



Little Ernest is better, and seems to have surmounted 
the danger. The small-pox has come out, the cramps 
also have disappeared. The case was made much worse 
by the cutting of teeth, for one tooth came out at the very 
same time with the first fever, and another is just now 
breaking through. You will readily believe that in these 
few days, what with the danger at first, and now the cry- 
ing of the dear child, I have not been able to do much. 
Neither can I move into the summer-house until all is in 
order again with the child. 

Your discoveries in the five Books amuse me much. 
Don't fail to write down your thoughts ; you may not come 
that road again soon. As well as I recollect, you have 
already had, some twenty years since, a war with the 
New Testament. I must acknowledge, that, in all that is 



historical, my unbelief in those records is so decided, that 
your doubts as to a single fact appear to me very reason- 
able. To me, the Bible is only true where it is naif ; 
everywhere else, where it is written with consciousness, I 
fear a design and a later origin. 

Cellini I did not receive early enough the day before 
yesterday, to be able to read it entirely through before 
sending it away ; I have, however, been again delighted 
with it, particularly with the pilgrimage, which he gets 
up in his joy over the achieved and song-honored work. 

Farewell, and free yourself soon from the affairs that 
draw your mind off from productive work. 

NA, 14th April, 1797. 



Through Humboldt I have already heard that your 
Ernest is out of danger, and in my mind have rejoiced 
thereat ; now I heartily wish you joy at his recovery. 

The Oratorio, yesterday, was right well performed, and 
I was able to make several observations on Historic Art. 
It is a great pity that we cannot enjoy in company such 
opportunities, for we should then strengthen ourselves 
much quicker in the one thing that is needful. 

On Monday the first four Muses* depart ; meanwhile I 
am very busy with the last five, and now particularly avail 
myself of friend Humboldt's prosodiacal remarks. 

At the same time, I have continued to accompany the 

* He refers to the sending off for publication of the first four Can- 
tos of Herrmann and Dorothea, the nine Cantos of which are named 
after the Muses. 



children of Israel in the desert, and, with your principles 
T can hope that some of these days my Essay on Moses 
will find favor in your eyes. My critico-historico-poetic 
work goes to show, that the books extant contradict and 
betray each other, and my whole sport consists in sepa 
rating the humanly probable from the designed and the 
merely imagined, and yet to discover everywhere proofs 
in support of my opinion. All hypothesis of this kind 
misleads merely through the naturalness of the thought 
and through the manifoldness of the phenomena on whic 
it is grounded. It is right well for me to have once more 
for a short time something with which I can with interest 
in the proper sense play. Poetry, as for some time pas 
we have pursued it, is far too earnest an occupation 
Fare you right well, and rejoice in the beautiful season. 

Weimar, 15th April, 1797. 



I REJOICE exceedingly that you are freed from anxiety 
on account of the child, and hope that he will continue t 
get better. Give my kindest greetings to your dear wife 

I am now studying in great haste the Old Testamen 
and Homer ; I read at the same time Eichhorn's Intro 
duction to the former, and Wolf's Prolegomena to th 
latter. Some extraordinary ideas spring up in me on the 
occasion, whereupon we shall hereafter have much t 

Do write as soon as you can your plan of Wallenstein 
and let me know it. With my present studies, an exami 
nation of such a plan will be very interesting to me, an 
also be of use to you. 


A thought on the epic poem I will at once communi- 
cate to you. As such a poem ought to be listened to in 
the greatest repose and ease of mind, therefore the under- 
standing perhaps makes more demands on it than on other 
kinds of poetry, and I was astonished, on reading the 
Odyssey through this time, to see those very demands of 
the understanding so fully satisfied. Now, if we con- 
sider with attention, what is related of the ancient gram- 
marians and critics, as well as of their talent and charac- 
ter, we see plainly that they were men of understanding, 
who did not rest until those great narrations harmonized 
with their mode of conception. And thus are we, as also 
Wolf endeavors to show, indebted for our present Homer 
to the Alexandrians, which no doubt gives to these poems 
a quite other aspect. 

One more special remark. Some verses in Homer, 
which are pronounced to be certainly not genuine and 
quite new, are of the same kind as some which I myself 
interpolated into my poem, after it was finished, in order 
to make the whole clearer and more intelligible, and to 
prepare betimes future events. I am very curious to see 
what I shall be inclined to add to or to take from my poem, 
when I shall have got through with my present studies. 

A chief quality of the epic poem is, that it goes 
always forward and back ; thence, all retarding sources 
are epic. They must not, however, be downright obsta- 
cles ; these belong properly in the Drama. 

Should this requisition of retardment — which is tho- 
roughly fulfilled by both the Homeric poems, and which 
also lay in the plan of mine — be really essential, and not 
to be dispensed with, then all plans that stride right for- 
ward to the end would be entirely to be rejected, or to be 


looked upon as a subordinate historic species. The pla 
of my second poem has this fault, if it be one, and I sh' 
take care not to write down so much as a verse of it unt 
we have got to a perfectly clear understanding of th* 
point. The idea seems to me singularly fruitful. If it 
just, it must bring us much further, and I will willing! 
sacrifice everything to it. 

With the Drama, it seems to me to be the reverse ; bu 
of this, more the next time. Farewell. 

Weimar, 19th April, 1797. 



I WISHED to write you many things upon your last letter, 
which has given me much to think of, but some business, 
that takes me away unexpectedly this evening, prevents 
me. Therefore only a few words for to-day. 

From all that you say, it becomes more and more clear 
to me, that the independent existence of its parts forms a 
chief characteristic of the epic poem. Naked truth, 
drawn out of the inmost sources, is the object of the epic 
poet : he depicts to us merely the tranquil existence and 
working of things according to their natures ; his object 
lies already in each point of his movement ; therefore we 
hasten not impatiently to an aim, but linger with affection 
at every step. He preserves to us the highest freedom of 
the mind, and in giving us this great advantage he thereby 
renders his own work the more difficult ; for we now 
make on him all the demands that are founded in the integ- 
rity and in the all-sided united activity of our powers. 
Quite the contrary, the tragic poet robs us of our mental 
freedom, and inasmuch as he directs and concentrates our 



i activity on one single side he simplifies to himself very 
: much his work, and sets himself on a vantage-ground, 

while he puts us at a disadvantage. 
Your idea of the returning march of the epic poem is 

perfectly clear to me. But I do not yet quite understand, 

from what I know of your Epopee, that this quality is 

wanting in it. 

Your further results, particularly for the Drama, I await 
with great eagerness. In the meantime I will more ma- 
turely reflect on what has been already said. 

Farewell. My little patient continues to do right 
bravely in spite of the bad weather. My wife greets you 

Jena, 21st April, 1797. 



A FEW more words on some points of your former 

Woltmann's Universal History is verily an extraordi- 
nary work. The introduction lies entirely out of my circle 
of vision ; of the Egyptian existence I cannot judge, but 
how in the treatment of Jewish history he could accept 
the Old Testament as it stands, without the slightest com- 
ment, as a pure source of events, is to me incomprehen- 
sible. The whole work is built on sand, and is a perfect 
prodigy, when one reflects that Eichhorn's Introduction is 
already ten years old, and that Herder's works have had 
efl'ect much longer. Of the unreasonable opponents of 

these ancient writings I will even not so much as speak. 

I hope that you may soon get into your summer-house, 
and be tranquillized on all sides. 



My best greetings to your dear wife, as well as to Hum- 
boldt, to whom I wish a speedy recovery. 

Weimar, 22d April, 1797. 



Jena, 25th April, 1797. 

That the demand for retardation results from a higher 
epic law, which, however, can be satisfied in another 
manner, seems to me beyond doubt. I believe also that 
there are two modes of retarding ; the one consists in the' 
nature of the way, the other in the manner of going it 
and this latter, it seems to me, is perfectly practicable 
even where the way is the straightest, and consequentl 
also with a plan such as yours is. 

I should not, however, express that higher epic law 
altogether as you have done. In the formula, that only 
the how and not the what is to be considered, it seems to 
me to be much too general, and to be applicable to all 
pragmatic kinds of poetry without distinction. My view 
thereupon, briefly expressed, is this. Both the epic an 
the dramatic poet represent to us an action, only that wii 
the latter the action is itself the object, with the former ' 
is a mere means to an absolute aesthetic object. Out o 
this principle I can fully explain to myself why the tragi 
poet must stride forward more rapidly and directly, wh 
the epic finds his account more in a loitering gait. It fol 
lows also from this, as it seems to me, that the epic doe 
well to abstain from such subjects as powerfully rouse fo 
themselves the feelings, whether of curiosity or of sym 
pathy, in which case, then, the action interests too much 
an end to keep itself within the bounds of a mere means 
I acknowledge that I in some measure fear this latter i 



voiir new poem, although I can trust whatever is possible 
to your poetic mastery of the subject. 

The manner in which you wish to develope your action 
seems to me to belong rather to comedy than to the epos. 
At least you will have much to do to take from*it what 
excites surprise and wonder, because this is not strictly 

I await your plan with great eagerness. I am inclined 
to have some doubt about it, because it made the same 
impression on Humboldt as on me, notwithstanding we 
had previously had no communication together in regard 
to it. For he thinks that the plan is wanting in individual 
epic action. When you first spoke to me of it, I kept 
waiting for the action proper ; all that you related to me 
seemed to me to be only the introduction to such an action 
between a few chief personages, and when I believed 
that now this action is going to open, you had finished. 
It is true, I well understand that the genus to which the 
subject belongs rather quits the individual, and obliges you 
to go into the collective and aim at a whole, as the hero in 
it is after all the understanding, which embraces much 
more under it than it contains in itself. 

For the rest, be the epic quality of your new poem 
what it may, it will, at all events, compared with your 
Herrmann, be another genus, and should therefore the 
Herrmann be a pure expression of the epic genus and not 
merely of an epic species, it would thence follow that the 
new poem were so much the more epic. But that is just 
what you wanted to know, whether the Herrmann repre- 
sents one kind of epic or the whole genus, and we there- 
fore come back to the question. 

I would call your new poem a comic-epic, if, be it un- 



derstood, we leave entirely out of view the common con- 
tracted and empiric notion of comedy and the comic-heroic 
poem. Your new poem, it appears to me, stands related 
to comedy in about the same degree that the Herrmann 
does to*tragedy : with this difference, that with the latter 
the relationship is more through the subject, with the 
former through the treatment. 

But I will first wait for your plan in order to say more 

What say you to the news of the Regensburg peace ? 
If you know anything decisive do inform us of it. 



The news of peace is true. Just as the French 
had re-entered Frankfort, and were hand to hand with the 
Austrians, came a courier, who brought the news of 
peace ; hostilities immediately ceased, and the Generals 
on both sides dined with the Burgomaster in the red 
house. Thus have the people of Frankfort for their 
money and suffering at any rate witnessed a coup de theatre, 
the like of which doesn't often occur in history, and we 
too shall have lived to see this important epoch. We will 
see what will accrue to parts and to the whole through this 

With what you say in your to-day's letter on the Dramas 
and Epos I agree perfectly ; just as I am accustomed 
always to have you relate and explain to me my dreams. 
I can add nothing further, but I must send you my plan or 
bring it myself. Some very subtle points will come up, of 
which just now in general I prefer to say nothing. If the 



subject shall not be adjudged to be purely epic, although 
it is in more than one sense important and interesting, we 
must be able to discern in what other form it ought to be 
handled. Fare you well ; enjoy your garden and the 
recovery of your little boy. 

With Humboldt T have passed the time very agreeably 
and profitably ; my labors in Natural History have, by his 
presence, been again waked up out of their winter sleep ; 
if they only don't fall again soon into a spring sleep ! 

Weimar, 26th April, 1797. 


I cannot, however, refrain from putting one question 
more about our dramatic-epic affair. What say you to the 
following positions ? 

In Tragedy, Fate, or what is the same thing, the deter- 
mined nature of man, which leads him blindly hither or 
thither, can and should rule and govern ; it must never 
lead him off to his aim, the Hero should not become mas- 
ter of his understanding, the understanding ought not to 
enter at all into tragedy, except with subordinate persona- 
ges, to the disadvantage of the chief hero, &c. 

In the Epos it is directly the reverse ; merely the 
understanding, as in the Odyssey, or a compliant passion, 
as in the Iliad, are epic agents. The voyage of the Argo- 
nauts, as an adventure, is not epic. 


Of what you call the best dramatic subject (where, 
namely, the exposition is itself a part of the development) 
there is, for example, an instance in the twins of Shaks- 
peare. I do not know of a similar example in tragedy, 




although the CEdipus rex approaches astonishingly near to 
this ideal. But I can very well conceive of dramatic sub- 
jects in which the exposition is at the same time also 
advancement of the action. Macbeth is of this kind ; I 
can also name the Robbers. 

To the epic poet I would not even allow an exposition ; 
at least, not in the sense of that of the dramatic. As he 
does not urge us onward towards the end as the dramatic 
poet does, therefore the beginning and the end approach 
one another much nearer in dignity and importance, and 
the exposition must interest us, not because it leads to 
something, but because itself is something. I think that 
in this far more indulgence should be shown to the dra- 
matic poet ; for the very reason that he places his object 
in the sequel and at the end, he may be permitted to treat 
the beginning more as a means. He stands under the 
category of causality, the epic poet under that of substan- 
tiality ; with the dramatist one thing may and should exist 
as the cause of some other thing, with the epic writer 
everything must make itself tell for its own sake. 

To-morrow at last I hope to take possession of my gar- 
den. The little boy is entirely restored, and the disease, 
it seems, has given greater firmness to his health. 

Humboldt went to-day ; for several years I shall not 
see him again, and it is hardly to be expected that we 
shall ever again see one another just as we now are on 
parting. So there is again a relation that is to be looked 
upon as closed and as not to be repeated ; for two years, 
lived so differently, will change a great deal in us, and 
therefore, also, between us. 





Yesterday, as I was reflecting on the fable of my new 
poem, in order to write it down for you, a quite peculiar 
affection for this work seized hold of me anew, which, 
after all that has in the meanwhile passed between us, is a 
favorable indication. Now as I know that I never get 
through with a thing if I have in any way confided or dis- 
closed to anybody the plan of the work, I prefer to with- 
hold for a while this communication from you ; we will 
discuss the matter on general grounds, and I can by my- 
self test my subject by the result of our discussion. 
Should I continue to have the courage and disposition, I 
\vould work it out, and when finished, it would give me 
more martter for reflection than in the plan ; should I de - 
spair of the execution, there will always be time to make 
known to you only the idea. 

Have you read Schlegel's treatise on the epic poem, in 
the eleventh Number of Germany of last year ? Do read 
it. It is singular how he, being as a man of good head in 
the right road, does nevertheless soon stop it up again him- 
self. Because the epic poem cannot have dramatic unity, 
because such a unity cannot be exactly discovered in the 
Iliad and Odyssey, — but they rather according to the more 
recent idea are declared to be more dismembered than they 
really are, — therefore the epic poem should neither have 
nor require any unity ; that is to say, according to my con- 
ception, it should cease to be a poem. And these are put 
forth as clear views, which, in fact, are contradicted even 
by experience, if one observes closely. For the Odyssey 
and Iliad, even though they may have passed through the 
hands of a thousand poets and editors, show the powerful 
tendency of poetical and critical nature towards unity. 




And after all this new Schlegelian performance is only for 
the benefit of the Wolfian opinion, which does not at all 
require such support. For because those great poems 
grew into being by degrees, and that it has not been possi- 
ble to bring them to any full and perfect unity (although 
both perhaps are far more perfectly organized than is 
thought), therefore it does not follow that such a poem can- 
not and should not in any wise become full, perfect and 

In the meanwhile I have made out of your letters a 
short article on our past intercommunications ; do go on 
and work the matter more fully out ; it is to us, both in a 
theoretical and practical view, at the present the most im- 
portant. * 

I have again read through, with the greatest pleasure, 
Aristotle's Art of Poetry ; the Understanding* is a glorious 

* As this term, used in the same sense, occurs several times in the 
letters, it will be perhaps well, for the facility of those who are not 
familiar with German thought, to explain, so far as can be done in 
a few words, its philosophical meaning. In the German systems the 
two general divisions of the mind are the Vernunft, which we are 
obliged to translate, although unsatisfactorily, by reason, and the 
Verstand, or understanding. The Vernunft embraces all the 
emotions of the soul, the religious, the moral and the poetical; 
through which alone in co-operation with the reasoning intellect, 
can the deepest truths be revealed. The Verstand, or Under- 
standing, embraces the whole intellect, unconnected with, and unin- 
spired by the emotions, and moreover all the lower or animal 
nature of man. These definitions are illustrated by a remark of j 
Coleridge, who says that Aristotle represents the Understanding and , 
Plato the pure Reason. The thought of Goethe here is, that such a' 
manifestation of the Understanding as is made in this work of Aris- ' 
totle is a very high, though not the highest exhibition of human 



thing in its highest manifestation. It is very remarkable 
how Aristotle relies merely on experience, and there- 
by, if you choose, becomes a little too natural ; but 
therefore, also, appears mostly so much the more solid. It 
was also very refreshing to me to read with what liberality 
he takes the poets under his protection against the imper- 
tinent and captious, insists only on what is essential, and 
in everything else is so lax that I have been astonished at 
more than one passage. His whole view of the art of 
poetry, and particularly of those departments to which he 
is partial, is so animating that I shall ere long take him 
in hand again, especially on account of some important 
passages which are not quite clear, and the meaning of 
which I Should like to search out. One finds, however, 
no explanation about the epic poem in the sense in which 
we wish it. 

I am recruiting myself at present from the disturbing 
occupations of the past month, and am putting various 
matters of business into order, or on one side, so that I 
may have the month of May free. If it is possible to me 
I will visit you. In the meanwhile fare you well. 

Weimar, 28th April, 1797. 



Just as I had set myself down in the evening to answer 
your two dear letters, I was interrupted by a visit from the 
Prince of Rudolstadt, who is here on account of the 
inoculation of his children, and as soon as I got rid of this, 
I had a visit from the Humboldts. It is now ten o'clock 
at night, and I can merely send you a friendly greeting. 
Sunday evening more. Farewell. 

Jena, 28th April, 1797. 





Jena ,2d May, 1797. 

I SALUTE you from my garden, which I got into to-day. 
Around me is a beautiful landscape, the sun is setting with 
a friendly look, and the nightingales are singing. Every- 
thing about me gladdens me, and my first evening on my 
own ground is of the happiest omen. 

This is, however, all that I can write to-day, for my 
head is distracted with arranging things. To-morrow I 
hope to go again to work with hearty good will, and to 
keep at it. 

If you would send me the text of Don Juan for a few 
days, you would do me a favor. I have the idea to make 
a ballad out of it, and as I am only acquainted ^ith the 
tale by hearsay, I should like to know how it is treated. 

Fare you well. I heartily rejoice in the prospect of 
soon again passing some time with you. 



I SEND you the second part of Vieilleville and the Don 
Juan you request. The thought to make a ballad out of 
it is very happy. The universally known story, placed in 
a new light through a poetic treatment, such as you have 
at command, will have a good effect. 

I wish you joy of the new dwelling, and will hasten to 
visit you in it as soon as possible. 

I send you also Aristotle, wish you much pleasure from 
it, and say no more for to-day. 





I AM very well satisfied with Aristotle, and not only 
with him, but also with myself ; it does not often happen 
that one does not lose one's inward peace after reading 
such a sober head and cold lawgiver. Aristotle is a real 
Minos to all those w^ho either adhere slavishly to outward 
form, or who set themselves above all form. The first he 
must drive into constant contradictions through his vita- 
lity and spirit, for it is obvious how much more impor- 
tance he attaches to the essence than to all outward form ; 
and to the latter the severity must be frightful with which 
he derives from the nature of the poem, and particularly 
of tragedy, its immutable form. Now for the first time, I 
undersfand in what a wretched plight he has put the 
French expounders, and poets, and critics ; and they have 
always been afraid of him as children of the rod. Shak- 
speare, much as he has sinned against him, would fare far 
better with him than the whole French Tragedy. 

I am, however, very glad that I have not read him 
earlier ; I should have missed a great pleasure and all the 
advantages which he now affords me. One must under- 
stand very clearly the fundamental ideas, if one would 
read him with profit : if one does not know well before- 
hand the subject of \vhich he treats, it must be dangerous 
to take counsel of him. 

It is certain, however, that he can never be entirely un- 
derstood or appreciated. His whole view of tragedy rests 
on empiric grounds. He has a quantity of represented 
tragedies before his eyes, which we no longer have before 
ours ; he reasons from his experience, and to us is want- 
ing nearly the whole basis of his judgment. Nowhere 
scarcely does he start from the idea of art, always only 



from the fact of art, and of the poet, and the representa- 
tion ; and if his judgments are in essentials genuine laws 
of art, we owe this to the happy accident that there were 
at that period works of art, which realized an idea through 
the fact of their existence, and made manifest their genus 
in an individual case. 

If in him one looks for a philosophy of poetry, such as 
we now have a right to require of a modern aesthetic 
writer, one will not merely be deceived, but will moreover 
have to laugh at his rhapsodical manner, and at the extra- 
ordinary mixing up together of general and most minute 
rules of logical, prosodiacal, rhetorical, and poetical propo- 
sitions ; as, for example, when he goes back even to the 
vowels and consonants. But if one reflects that he had 
before him an individual tragedy, and that he scrutinized 
every point that presented itself in it, then everything is 
easily explained, and one is very glad to recapitulate on 
such an occasion, all the elements of which a poetic work 
is composed. 

I am not at all surprised that he gives to tragedy the 
preference over the epic poem : he does not mean to de- 
tract from the essential and poetic worth of the Epopee, 
although he does not express himself altogether without 
ambiguity. As judge and aesthetic critic, he must be 
better satisfied with that species which is embodied in a 
permanent form, and in regard to which a judgment can 
be agreed on. Now this is evidently the case in tragedy, 
as he had it before him in models, while the more simple 
and definite business of the dramatic poet can be far more 
easily understood and declared, and presents to the under- 
standing a more complete technical system, on account of 
the shorter study and the lesser breadth. In addition to 



this, it is plain that his preference for tragedy pro- 
ceeds from a clearer insight into it ; that strictly speaking 
he is acquainted only with the generic-poetic laws of the 
Epopee, which it has in common with tragedy, and not 
with the specific ones, through which it is opposed to 
tragedy ; thence also he felt authorized to say, that the 
Epopee is contained in tragedy, and that he who knows 
how to judge of the latter, can also decide on the former ; 
for the universal pragmatic-poetical of the Epopee is in- 
deed contained in tragedy. 

There are many apparent contradictions in this treatise, 
which, however, impart to it a higher value in my eyes ; 
for they give me assurance that the whole consists only 
of isolated views, and that no theoretic preconceived ideas 
are involved in it : much, no doubt, may also be ascribed 
to the translator. 

I shall be glad when you are here, to talk over this 
work with you more in detail. 

That in tragedy he lays the chief weight on the con- 
catenation of the incidents, is striking the nail right on the 

The manner in which he compares poetry and history 
together, and accords to the former a greater truth than to 
the latter, pleased me exceedingly from a man in whom 
the understanding is so predominant. 

It is also very clever where he remarks, on occasion of 
what he says of opinions, that the old poets made their 
personages speak more politically, the later ones more 

What he says in favor of real historic names for dra- 
matic characters, is likewise very judicious. 

That he was so very partial to Euripides, as he has 



been charged with, I have by no means found. In general 
I find, after now reading myself his Poetics, how mon- 
strously he has been misunderstood. 

I send you herewith a letter from Voss, which has just 
arrived enclosed to me. He sends me also an hexame- 
trical translation of Ovid's Phaeton, for the Horcn, which 
in my great distress arrives very opportunely. He him- 
self will not visit Weimar and Jena on his journey. 

As regards the map to your Essay on Moses, we will, 
if you have no objection, appropriate what shall be 
received for the Lenzian Treatise, — which I am having 
inserted in the fifth number, — to defraying the cost of the 
map. I promised Cotta that no one sheet should cost 

more than louis d'or ; else he would not have been 

well able to continue the Horen. In this way, however, 
it will answer very well. Do you provide only that we 
be able to have the Moses and also the plate printed soon. 

Does the Aristotle belong to you ? If not, I will order it 
at once, for I should not like to part with it so soon. 

I send new Horen; also Don Juan, with thanks. I 
think the subject is quite well suited to a ballad. 

Farewell. I have already got quite accustomed to the 
new mode of life, and pass many an hour in wind and 
rain, in walking in the garden, and find myself well 
for it. 

Jena, 5th March, 1797. 



I AM very glad that we have hit upon Aristotle just at 
the right hour. A book is only then found when it is 
understood. I recollect very well to have read this trans- 



lation thirty years ago, but of the meaning of the work I 
then comprehended nothing at alL I hope soon that wc 
shall discuss it together more fully. This copy is not 

Voss has written me a very pleasant letter, and an- 
nounces to me his labors upon ancient geography, which 
I am very curious to see. 

Both the letter and the envelope promise a couple of 
Homeric maps, which, however, I haven't received ; per- 
haps they are with the O vidian Metamorphoses. 

Latterly, when I have again made frequent use of his 
Homeric translation, I could not but admire and honor its 
great merit. A thought has occurred to me whereby jus- 
tice might be done him in a liberal way, and at the same 
time not without vexing his assailants. We will talk of 

I am quite willing that we apply the profits of Lenz's 
Mummy to the Map of Palestine. But I wish to pause 
for a moment yet, until I see whether my Moses will really 
be ready. Until now I had got the idea of Italy almost 
entirely out of my mind ; now, however, that the hope of 
visiting it once more is revived, I see how necessary it 
is to take my collection* in hand again, to put in order 
and to plan. 

On the 15th I think I shall be with you again, and to 
remain some time ; I am to-day still quite out of tune, from 
a week of distractions. Farewell, and eiijoy the free air 
and the solitude. 

Weimar, 6th May, 1797. 


* He refers probably to the manuscripts of his former travels in 





Have you read Schlegel's critique on Schlosser ? It is 
to be sure, in its fundamental principles, not untrue, but the 
evil intent and party spirit are much too apparent in it. 
This Mr. Frederick Schlegel is really getting too bad. 
He lately told Humboldt that he had reviewed Agnes in 
the journal Germany, and very severely too. But that 
now, since he hears it is not by you, he regrets that he 
handled it so roughly. So the coxcomb thinks it his duty 
to take care that your taste fall not off. And this impru 
dence is coupled with such ignorance and shallowness 
that he really took Agnes to be your work. 

The gossip about the Xenia continues ; I am constantly 
meeting with a new title of a book, wherein an essay or 
something similar is announced against the Xenia. Latel 
I found in a journal, called " Annals of Suffering Hu 
manity," an article against them. 

I beg you not to forget the conclusion of Cellini, and 
perhaps, in rummaging among your papers, something else 
will fall into your hands for the Horen, or for the Al 

Farewell. My wife sends her best regards. 

Jena, 16th May, 1797. 



1 AM sorry that you have to endure the evil of building. 
It is a great annoyance, and withal an attractive pastime 
to have mechanics at work in one's neighborhood. I hop 
that this event may not disturb you too much. 

* Schiller, in the omitted part of the last letter, had told him of 
repairs he was having made in his house. 



I am trying to put things in order as much as possible, 
that I may earn a few perfectly free weeks, and if possible 
get a mood for the conclusion of my poem. Of the rest of 
the dear German literature, I have taken leave once for 
all. In almost every case opinions of a work are deter- 
mined by the good or evil disposition towards the person 
of the author, and the nonsense of party spirit is more dis- 
tasteful to me than any other caricature. 

Since the hope of again seeing the promised, though at 
present so mal-treated land, has revived in me, I am friends 
with all the world, and more than ever convinced, that in 
the theoretical and practical, and particularly in our case, 
in the scientific and poetical, one should seek to get more 
and more in harmony with oneself, and so to remain. For 
the rest, let all things go as they can. 

Let us, so long as we remain together, bring our two 
beings more and more into unison, so that even a longer 
separation be not able to injure our relation to one an- 

The conclusion of Cellini I will take in hand the first 
thing in Jena ; perhaps something else also may turn up, 
and perhaps Moses will be quickened again through our 
conversation. Fare you right well ; greet your dear wife, 
and enjoy the fresh air, which, sooner or later, will attune 
your mind. ' 

Weimar, 17th May, 1797. 





This is a fine day for gathering up one's faculties, and 
it invites to work. Moses, as you have taken him, is 
really not so unlike Cellini, but the parallel will be thought 

Here is the account. I would rather give you the 
money myself, the sum is too large. Farewell. 



Unto the Lord, in desert blight, 

Satan a pebble brought, 

And said : Lord, now through thy might. 

To bread let it be wrought. 

Of many stones, here gives thy friend 
To thee a sample piece ; 
For which ideas back thou'lt send 
With thousand fold increase. 
Jena, 13th June, 1797. 



I SEND the small remnant of Cellini and the Flower- 
Girl, and beg in return the lady Des Belles Cousines, for 
which, I don't know why, I have a particular fancy. At 
the same time, also, Ihe Almanac, which contains the 
Dignity of Women,] for an object that it would be hard for 
you to guess. 

* Goethe was now for some weeks in Jena. The correspond- 
ence, during this period, consists of short notes, nearly all from 
Goethe, relating mostly to the interchange of MS. poems, articles 
for the Journal, &c. I give only two or three of them. 

t A poem of Schiller's 



The barometer continues low, and obliges us to seek 
our enjoyment within doors, and within ourselves. I 
shall come this afternoon, only for a short time, because I 
cannot this evening, I am sorry to say, take the bright 
supper with you. 

Jena, 13th June, 1797. 



Jena, 18th June, 1797. 

Since your absence, I have already a foretaste of the 
great loneliness into which your complete departure will 
transplant me. Fortunately, the weather favors me just 
now, and I can live in the free air. In the meantime, I 
have been at work at Vieilleville, for time passes ; I have, 
notwithstanding, poetised a little : a small afterpiece to 
the Diver, to which I have been incited by an anecdote in 
S. Foix^ Essai sur Paris. 

I now look forward with hearty gladness to a poetic 
activity, and hope in the two next months to bring some- 
thing to pass. 

The determining whether you shall go further than 
Switzerland, is important to me also, and I await it with 
impatience. The greater the number of the connexions that 
I no longer keep up, the greater the influence upon me of 
the few that are left, and your living presence has the 
most decided. The last four weeks have again helped to 
build up, and to found much in me. You draw me off 
more and more from the tendency (which in everything 
practical, and especially in the poetical, is a perverseness) 
to go from the general to the individual, and you lead me, 
on the contrary, from single cases to great laws. The 
point is always small and narrow from which you are 



accustomed to set out, but it leads me into broad regions, 
and thereby does my inmost nature good ; whereas, in the 
path, which, when left to myself, I so readily follow, I 
always come from the broad into the narrow, and have 
the unpleasant feeling, to find myself at the end poorer 
than at the beginning. 

Of Humboldt, I have still no news ; he appears to be 
not yet arrived in Dresden, because Körner could give me 
no information about him. 

This evening, my wife went with Wolzogen, who was 
here, to Weimar, for a few days. Vieilleville keeps me 
tied down. 

Don't forget to send me the chorus of Prometheus. 
Farewell. I long to hear soon from you again. 



On a rainy day like this it must look lonely in your 
castle ; however, a wide prospect whose landand sky pre- 
sent such variety of aspects, has more value than is be- 
lieved by those who enjoy it every day. 

I wish you in this confinement from without good pro- 
gress in your labors. 

The Glove is a very happy subject, and the execution 
successful ; we will, in future, at once avail ourselves of 
subjects of this kind that occur to us. Here we have the 
perfectly bare fact, without design, or rather with an oppo- 
site design, which pleases so particularly. 

Within these few days I have taken hold of several 
things, but have done nothing. I have improved and filled 
out the plan for the history of Peter's Church, and this 
work, as well as Moses, and others, will, by degrees, grow 



ripe. The present time — which, in the uncertainty where- 
in I float, cannot nourish a sustained interest — I must 
make use of as well as I can, until I am again led back to 
some unity. 

I cannot find the chorus out of Prometheus, nor can I 
recollect that I had it back from Humboldt, wherefore I 
thought it was in your hands. At all events, Madame 
Humboldt took a copy of it, and it will be easy therefore 
to get it from Dresden. 

The day before yesterday I paid a visit to Wieland, 
who lives in a very neat, roomy and comfortably arranged 
house, in the dreariest region in the world ; the road to it 
is moreover generally very bad. It is fortunate that each 
man has only to provide that his own condition be com- 
fortable ; I wish that the good old man's may never cease 
to be so to him. The worst really is, according to my 
idea, that in rainy weather and short days all communica- 
tion with other people is out of the question. 

My situation, which rocks to and fro, between near and 
far, between a great and a small expedition, has in it at 
this moment little that is agreeable, and I shall be obliged 
to continue thus for some weeks yet. If I bring our good 
friend Meyer back again by Michaelmas, our winter life 
will then take a good course. In the last four weeks we 
have, both theoretically and practically, again made excel- 
lent progress ; and if my nature has the effect of drawing 
yours into the finite, I, on the other hand, have the advantage 
that I am often through you drawn beyond my limits, at 
least that I don't circle round so long on so narrow a spot. 
If now the old master* joins us, who gives me the benefit 
of the wealth of a foreign Art, there will surely be no want 

* Meyer. 



of good influences. I send back the Glove, which makes 
truly a pretty afterpiece and counterpart to the Diver, and 
through its own merit enhances the merit of that poem. 
Farewell, and let me hear from you soon. 

Weimar, 21st June, 1797. 



As it is highly necessary that I give myself something 
to do, in my present unsettled state, I have determined to 
go at my Faust, in order, if not to finish it, yet at least to 
carry it forward a good way, and for this I will break up 
what is printed and arrange it in large masses in connec- 
tion with what is already finished or invented, and thus 
more fully prepare for the execution of the plan, which 
strictly is as yet only an idea. Now I have just taken up 
again this idea and its exposition, and am tolerably at one 
with myself in regard to it. Now I would wish that you 
would have the goodness to revolve the matter in your 
mind some sleepless night, lay before me the requisitions 
that you would make on the whole, and thus relate and 
interpret to me, like a true prophet, my own dreams. 

As the difierent parts of this poem, in what relates to 
their mood, can be treated diflferently, provided only that 
they be kept subordinate to the spirit and tone of the 
whole ; as, moreover, the entire work is subjective, I can 
therefore work at it in odd moments, and thus I am able to 
accomplish something now. 

Our ballad studies have brought me again into this 
misty and cloudy road, and circumstances counsel me, in 
more than one sense, to rove about in it for a while. 

What is interesting in my new epic plan, will perhaps 
vanish into the air in such a mist of rhyme and strophe. 



For to-day fare you well. Carl enjoyed himself yes- 
terday in my garden, notwithstanding the bad weather. 
Had your dear wife remained here it would have given 
me pleasure to see her and her friends at my house this 
evening. If you could but make up your mind to measure 
once more the Jena road. I would, however, wish you 
better weather for such an expedition. 

Weimar, 22d June, 1797. 



Jena, 23d June, 1797. 

Your determination to go at Faust has indeed surprised 
me, particularly now, when you are girding yourself for a 
journey to Italy. But I have once for all given up mea- 
suring you with common logic, and am thence convinced 
beforehand that your genius will see you well through 
with the undertaking. 

Your request to me to communicate to you my expecta- 
tions and desideria, is not so easy to fulfil ; but so far as I 
can, I will try to discover your thread, and if that is not 
possible, I will figure to myself that I had accidentally 
found the fragments of Faust, and had to complete them. 
Thus much only will I here remark, that your Faust can- 
not, with all his poetic individuality, entirely ward off the 
demand for a symbolic significance, as is probably your 
own idea. The duality of human nature, and the abortive 
endeavor to unite in man the godlike and the physical, 
one does not lose sight of ; and because the fable runs and 
must run into the fantastic and formless, people will not 
stop with the subject, but will be led from it to ideas. In 
short, the demands on Faust are at the same time philo- 
sophical and poetical, and you may turn yourself as you 



will, the nature of the subject will impose on you a philo- 
sophical treatment, and the imagination must accommodate 
itself to the service of a philosophical idea. 

But herewith I am not telling you anything new, for in 
what is already done you have begun to satisfy this de- 
mand in a high degree. 

If you now really take up Faust, I shall have no further 
doubt of its complete execution, at which I am much re- 

My wife, who brings me your letter, and has just re- 
turned from her short journey with Mr. Carl, prevents me 
from writing more to-day. On Monday, I think I shall 
send you a new ballad ; the present is a fruitful time for 
the bringing forth of ideas. 


ScH. I 


Thanks for your first words on the reanimated Faust. 
We shall not differ in our view of this production, but it at 
once puts one in a quite other mood for work, when one 
sees his thoughts and purposes indicated from without, 
and your sympathy is fruitful in more than one sense. 

That I have attacked this work at present is in fact a 
matter of foresight; for as with Meyer's state of health, I 
must still look to passing the winter here in the north, I 
don't wish to become burdensome to myself and my 
friends through chagrin at a disappointed hope, and there- 
fore with joy and love I prepare for myself beforehand a 
retreat into this symbolical, ideal, and cloudy world. 

I will first endeavor to finish the large masses that are 
already invented and half-wrought, and combine them with 



what is printed, and keep at it until the circle exhausts 

Farewell ; go on giving me your thoughts about the 
subject and the treatment, and don't fail to send me the 

Weimar, 24th June, 1797. 



Jena, 27ih June, 1797. 

Herewith are two poems, which were sent in yester- 
day for the Almanac. Do examine them and tell me in a 
few words what impression they make on you and what 
you expect of their author. Of products in this style, I 
cannot judge well, and precisely in the present instance, I 
would wish to see very clearly ; because my counsel and 
hints will have influence with the author. 

Fare you right well. The weather is here unfriendly, 
and it rains, neither has to-day brought forth much. 



The " Ring of Polycrates"* is very well executed. 
The royal friend, before whose eyes, as before those of the 
listener, everything happens, and the conclusion which 
leaves the development in suspense, is all very good. I 
wish that my counterpart piece may turn out as well. 
Your remarks on Faust gave me much pleasure ; they 
agree very well, as was natural, with my purposes and 
plans, only that I take it easier with this barbaric compo- 
sition, and design rather to becalm than to satisfy the high- 

* A poem of Schiller's. 



est demands. Thus the understanding and the reason, 
like two boxers, strike away very ferociously at each 
other, to lie down amicably together in the evening. I 
will take care that the parts be graceful and interesting, 
and give occasion to thought ; with the whole, which will 
always remain a fragment, the new theory of the epic 
poem may stand me in stead. 

The barometer is in constant motion ; at this season we 
cannot count on steady weather. One does not feel this 
inconvenience until one makes demands on a pure exist- 
ence in the free air ; the Autumn is always our best time. 

Fare you right well, and go on making diligent provi- 
sion for your Almanac. As through my Faust, I continue 
in the world of rhyme, I shall also, I am sure, furnish 
something more. It seems to me to be now settled that 
this is the form best suited to my tigers and lions ; I am 
only almost afraid that what is really interesting in the 
subject may at last resolve itself into a ballad. We must 
wait to see on what shore the Genius will drive the little 

The Ring I will send on Wednesday by the carrier- 

Weimar, 27th June, 1797. 



Jena, 26th June, 1797. 

I HAVE now again read Faust, and my head grows 
dizzy in thinking on the solution. This is, however, quite 
natural, for the matter depends on a particular point of 
view, and so long as one has not that, even a subject less 
rich than this would embarrass the understanding. What 



concerns me is, that, from his character, Faust seems to 
require a totality of material, if in the end the idea is to 
appear completely carried out, and for a mass that boils 
up to such a height I know of no poetic rope that will 
hold it together. Well, you will know how to get out of 
the difficulty. 

For example, it would be necessary, according to my 
view, that Faust be conducted into practical life, and what- 
ever part you select for him out of this mass, it seems to 
me that, from its nature, it will require a too great circum- 
stantiality and breadth. 

In regard to the treatment, I think the great difficulty is 
easy to get through with between sport and earnest. Un- 
derstanding and Reason seem to me in this subject to 
wrestle together for life. In tiie present fragmentary form 
of Faust, this is strongly felt, but expectation is referred 
to the developed whole. The Devil, through his material- 
ism, pleads for the understanding, and Faust for the heart. 
Occasionally, however, they seem to change parts, and the 
Devil takes Reason under his protection against Faust. 

One difficulty I find therein, that the Devil through his 
character, which is material, annuls his existence, which 
is ideal. As he stands there, it is only Reason that can 
comprehend him and give him value. 

I am very curious to see how the popular fable will 
fasten itself to the philosophical part of the whole. 

Here I send you my Ballad. It is a counterpart to your 
Cranes. Write me, I pray, how the barometer stands ; 
I should like to know, if we may at last hope for steady 
weather. Farewell. 





The two poems you sent me, which are here returned, 
I like well enough, and they are sure of finding friends 
among the public. The African Desert and the North 
Pole are, however, painted neither through actual nor 
imaginative contemplation, but rather are both depicted 
through negations, and so they do not sufficiently contrast, 
as the intention is, with the sweet cheerful German pic- 
ture. The other poem, too, has more a natural-historical 
look than a poetical, and reminds one of the pictures 
where the animals all gather round Adam in Paradise 
Both poems express a gentle aspiration, which resolves 
itself into contentment. The poet has a cheerful view of 
nature, with which, however, he seems to be acquainted 
only at second-hand. Some animated pictures take one by 
surprise, although I don't like to see the gushing fores 
as contrasting image to the desert. In particular expres 
sions, as in the measure, there is here and there somethin 
to be altered. 

Without having seen more things by the author, so that 
one could judge whether he had other means and talent 
in other measures, I should not know what to counsel him 
I should say that there are in both poems good ingredient 
for a poet, which, however, alone do not make a poet 
Perhaps it were best that he should choose a perfectl 
simple idyllic fact and depict it : thus one could soone 
see how he would succeed with painting men, whereupo 
after all everything in the end depends. I should thin 
that the Ether \yo\M not appear ill in the Almanac, an 
the Wanderer suit very well in the Horen. 

The Ring, which I here send back again, stands re 
peated reading perfectly well ; it grows, indeed, better, as 



every poem of merit must, inasmuch as it compels us into 
the mood, which we do not at once bring with us to the 
first hearing or reading. 

Fare you well in this rainy weather, which is un- 
friendly as well to the hay-harvest as to those who live in 

Weimar, 28th June, 1797. 



Jena, 30th June, 1797. 

I AM glad that you do not altogether dislike my friend 
and protege. What was faulty in his work struck me very 
forcibly, but I wasn't quite sure whether, too, the good that I 
thought I perceived in it would stand the test. To be frank, 
I found in these poems much of my own early manner, and 
it is not the first time that the author has reminded me of 
myself. He has a sharp subjectivity, and combines there- 
with a certain philosophical spirit and penetration. His 
condition is dangerous, as it is so very difficult to get at 
such natures. Meanwhile, however, I find in these new 
pieces the beginning of a certain improvement, when I 
compare them with his former works ; for, in short, it is 
Hölderlin whom you saw at my house some years ago. 
I would not give him up, if I could see any possibility of 
drawing him out of his own company, and of opening to 
him a beneficial and enduring influence from without. He 
is living now as tutor in the house of a merchant in Frank- 
fort, and is therefore, in matters of taste and poetry, bound- 
ed within himself, and in this situation is ever more and 
more driven into himself. 

For the Horen^ our poetess Mereau has made me a very 
agreeable present, and which has really surprised me. It 




is the beginning of a Novel, in Letters, which are written 
with far more clearness, lightness, and simplicity, than I 
could ever have expected from her. In them she begins 
to free herself from faults, which I looked upon as quite 
incurable in her, and if she continues to go in this good 
road, we shall yet live to see something made of her. I 
cannot, indeed, but be astonished how our women now are 
able, in a mere dilettante way, to acquire a certain dex- 
terity in writing, which comes near to Art. 

Do you happen to know one Ahlwardt, rector in Ank- 
1am, through a translation of Callimachus ? He has offered 
himself to the Horen, and refers to Voss, who sent him to 
me. He translates out of ancient and modern languages, 
and he says that in the Mercury of 1795 there are several 
things by him from Euripides, Ovid, and also from Camo- 
ens. If you see Boettiger, have the goodness to ask him 
about that matter, and to obtain through him those numbers 
of the Mercury. He offers me Hero and Leander, and 
some translations from the English, and I should like very 
well to make use of him. 

I could wish that the two tolerably pleasant days which 
we have again enjoyed may have been more fruitful to you 
than to me. My cramps have been sharper again for 
some days, and have not let me sleep. I wanted to think 
about Faust again, but the Devil in my body kept down 
the poetic one. 

Fare you right well. 


I have some reminiscences out of a journey through 
North America by Thomas Carver, and I have a thought 
that the character of these tribes might perhaps be well 
given in a song. For that, however, I should have to look 



into Carver again. I had the book of Knebel, who is, 
however, as I hear, absent. Perhaps Voigt has it, who 
is so richly provided with books of travels, and would lend 
it to me on one of the carrier-days. 


1 WILL also acknowledge that those poems reminded me 
somewhat of your style and manner ; a similarity of direc- 
tion is certainly not to be mistaken ; but they have neither 
the fullness, nor the vigor, nor the depth of your works. 
Meanwhile these poems commend themselves by a cer- 
tain delicacy, cordiality, and sobriety, and the author 
deserves, — particularly as you already have had relations 
with him, — that you should do what is possible to lead and 
to guide him. 

Our women are to be praised , if they continue thus to 
develope and form themselves by study and practice. 
After all, modern artists have no other way. There is no 
theory, — at least no generally intelligible one, — there are 
no decided models, which represent whole classes, and 
thus, therefore, must each one, by participation and approxi- 
mation and much practice, cultivate his poor self. 

Counsellor Hirt is here ; he is to me, in many ways, a 
strange phenomenon. The monuments of ancient and 
modern art in the glorious land are very vividly present to 
him ; and as a man of understanding he knows right well 
how to classify and value a full empirical knowledge, as, 
for example, in Architecture, which is properly his 
department, he has a right good judgment. The well, 
known idea of the symbolical transferring, as it were» 
of the completed wooden construction to construction with 
stone, he knows how to carry out very well, and to exhibit 



the conformity of the parts to use as well as to beauty. In 
the other Arts he has also an extensive experience, 
but in strict aesthetic judgment he has not advanced from 
the point where we left him ; and in respect to antiquarian 
information, he cannot stand by the side of Boettiger, be- 
cause he has neither the breadth nor the subtlety. On the 
whole his presence is very agreeable to me, because his 
endeavors are lively and edifying, and earnest, without 
being burthensome. He has had a great many drawings 
made for his architectural demonstrations, in which the 
good and the faulty are very judiciously placed side by 

I will make inquiries about the new contributor as well 
as about Carver. 

Herewith is a sheet on account of the other books, which 
I beg you to subscribe, and to send me back the other two. 

With a view to the plan and general survey I have rap- 
idly pushed Faust forward right smartly, but palpable archi- 
tecture soon frightened away the air-phantoms. I only 
want now a quiet month, and the work would grow out of 
the earth like a huge family of toad-stools, full of wonders 
and horrors. Should nothing come out of my journey, I 
have put my sole trust in these drolleries. I am now hav- 
ing what is printed copied again, and separated at the same 
time into its parts, for thus the new can the better grow up 
together with the old. 

From Meyer I hav'n't heard for some time. Of my 
Poem seven sheets are arrived, which contain five Cantos 
and the half of the sixth. Fare you well, and think of 

Weimar, July 1st, 171)7. 





July 4th, 1797. 

Hirt has occupied me in the last three days in a very- 
interesting manner, and left behind him with me what will 
give me something to think of for a long while. His 
judgments, although they are somewhat comprehensive, 
rest on a manifold and long contemplation, and express in 
a few words fruitful results of an active observation and 
thorough study. To me it seems that in the main he 
agrees tolerably well with you and Meyer ; at least, one 
can talk with him long of what is deepest and most inward, 
without striking on a dissonance, or being unintelligible to 
each other. I should like to have been the third man 
when you conversed with him on these subjects, because I 
cannot long maintain a conversation about plastic Art out 
of my own materials, but can listen with profit. 

He is very much prepossessed against Michael Angelo, 
and it seems to me that he places him far too low, 
when he allows him only a temporary value. At the same 
time, however, I found his arguments in favor of this hard 
sentence against Michael Angelo very intelligent, and 
doubt merely as to the just statement of facts whereon he 
grounds them. 

For the rest I don't quite know yet what I ought to 
think of Hirt, and whether he will stand the test of a 
longer acquaintance. Perhaps much does not belong to 
him wherewith he now makes a show ; at least, it seems 
to me, that the warmth and vivacity with which he could 
set forth many things, do not properly lie in his nature. 

Make him tell you something about Painter Mueller, if 
he has not already done it. It is quite diverting how the 
article in the Horen against Fernow originated. 



I hope to-morrow to hear from you that Faust has 
advanced. Hirt's being here has drawn me off from 
work for the last few days ; only the idea of the North 
American Song has been executed. I send the Song, 
which, for the sake of change, may pass. 

Herewith is the note of the books, together with a letter 
from Humboldt. You will receive the books through my 
brother-in-law, to whom I send a package to-day. 

Fare you well. 

Faust has for the time been laid aside ; the nortM 
em phantoms have been for a while thrust back by the 
southern reminiscences ; nevertheless, I have worked out 
the whole very circumstantially in reference to the plan 

I am very glad that you have become personally ac- 
quainted with our old Roman friend ; you will in future 
better understand him and his works. One sees in him 
also what good a rich and almost complete empirical 
knowledge brings forth in an intelligent man. Therein 
you judge him quite correctly, that his logical operations 
go on perfectly well, if the premises are right ; but he 
often begins by laying down premises as general, which, 
if not false, are yet limited and one-sided, so that the con- 
clusions can only stand a short time. Thus his dislike of 
Michael Angelo springs from a fixed, untenable idea ; 
thus in the Essay on Laocoon, which I send herewith, he 
is in many respects right, and nevertheless he falls short 
in the whole, as he does not perceive that Lessing's, 
Winkelman's and his, yea, and other expositions, all 



and general survey. 



together do no more than define the boundaries of art. 
At the same time, it is very good how he insists upon the 
characteristic and pathetic in the plastic arts also. 

I have on this occasion recalled to mind an essay which 
I wrote many years ago, and as I have not been able to 
find it, I have put together the matter, which I still well 
remember, according to my, and I may say our, present 
convictions. Perhaps I can send it over on Saturday. 
The Essay of Hirt is a good preparation for it, as it has 
been the latest prompter of it. Perhaps this will give 
occasion to much else, particularly if Meyer comes back 
with his treasures, as I shall likewise take the opportu- 
nity to go at the Church of St. Peter's again, because this 
treatise can also be looked upon as the basis of so many 
other things. 

The So7ig of the Dead, which herewith goes back to 
you, has its genuine character of reality and humor, which 
in such cases so well becomes savage natures. It is a 
great merit of poetry, that it transports us into these moods, 
as it is likewise meritorious to be ever widening the circle 
of poetic subjects. Fare you right well, greet your dear 
wife, and use and enjoy the time as much and as well as 
is possible. 

From Meyer I have as yet heard nothing. 

Weimar, 5th July, 1797. 


Could you send me a copy of Wallenstein's Camp ? 
I have promised it to the Duchess, who has already several 
times inquired with interest about your work. 



I DELAY not to send you immediately the note I hav 
just received from Meyer. It was my earnest, and I ma 
truly say, at this moment my only wish, to learn that 
was again in Switzerland, where he before recovered so 
beautifully, and will also this time I am sure recover 

I am now preparing for my departure, so that I may 
get off as soon as the Duke arrives. It were for a hundred 
considerations admirable and well if you could come 
over here for some days ; I should indeed at all events 
visit you once more, but that could only be for a few 
hours, and we should then still have much left to talk of. 
To-morrow early more. Farewell. 

Weimar, 7th July, 1797. 



Jena, 7th July, 1797. 

Now were, it seems to me, just the right moment to 
review and throw light upon the Greek works of Art 
from the side of the characteristic : for the views of 
Winkelman and Lessing continue to prevail universally, 
and our latest aesthetic writers, as well on poetry as the 
plastic arts, do their utmost to free the Beautiful of the 
Greeks from all that is characteristic, and to make it the 
standard of the modern Beautiful. To me it seems, that 
the later analysts, in their endeavors to isolate the idea of 
the Beautiful and establish it in a certain purity, have 
almost hollowed it out and converted it into an empty 
sound ; that they have gone much too far in contradis- 
tinguishing the Beautiful from the right and fitting, and 
that they have grossly exaggerated a separation which only 



the philosopher makes, and which is only admissible from 
one point of view. 

Many again fail, I find, in another way, inasmuch as 
they refer the idea of the Beautiful far too much to the 
subject of a work of art instead of to the treatment, and so 
they cannot but be embarrassed when they have to com- 
prehend under one single idea of beauty, the Apollo of 
the Vatican, and other similar works, — which from their 
subject alone are beautiful forms, — with the Laokoon, with 
a Faun, and other painful and ignoble representations. 

It is, as you know, the same case with poetry. How 
have people ever worried themselves, and still worry them- 
selves, to reconcile the coarse, often low and hateful na- 
tures in Homer and the tragic poets, with the notions they 
had formed for themselves of the Grecian Beautiful ! 
Would that some one were once bold enough to attempt 
to throw out of circulation the idea and even the word 
Beauty, to which all those false notions are inseparably 
tied, and in its stead to place, as it should be. Truth in its 
most comprehensive sense ! 

I should like to have the Treatise of Hirt in the Horen. 
You and Meyer, if the path is once open, would then be 
able to take up the thread the more conveniently, and you 
would likewise find the public the better prepared. I, 
:qo, should find my account in it if this matter touching 
he characteristic and passionate in Greek works of art 
came to be thoroughly discussed, for I foresee that the 
investigations into Greek tragedy, which I have laid off 
for myself, will lead me to the same point. Your Essay 
I await with eagerness. 

I have come to the conclusion that the musical part of 
t>he Almanac must be finished first of all, because other- 



wise the composer will not be ready. Therefore I have 
now gone to work at my bell-founder's song, and since 
yesterday I have been studying in Kruenitz's Encyclo- 
paedia, out of which I get a great deal of profit. This 
poem I have much at heart, but it will cost me several 
weeks, because I need for it so many varieties of moods, 
and there is a great bulk to be worked up. I should have 
no objection, if you advise me to it, to let four or five short 
Nadowessian songs follow after, in order to carry through 
a variety of conditions this creation into which I have now 
thrown myself. 

My projected journey to Weimar would not be brought 
to pass this week ; I however hope to effect it next week. 
The Prologue is just now abroad ; so soon as it returns, 
I will send it or bring it myself with me. 

Fare you well. My wife sends best greetings to you. 



The treatise of Hirt has the great merit that it incul- 
cates the characteristic with so much spirit, and its ap- 
pearance must force a discussion of the subject. I will 
try to get it for the Horen. Here is also mine, which I 
commend to your indulgence as being as a whole, as well 
as in the parts, a hasty Essay. I desire to hear how you 
are satisfied with the method and the spirit, as I am 
anxious to hear Meyer's opinion of the exposition proper 
of the work of Art. One might extend this treatise over 
the finest statues of antiquity and other works of art, and 
with you I am convinced that one would cooperate very 
acceptably with whoever is engaged in the field of Tra- 



As our friend Meyer is once more safe and whole on 
northern ground, I foresee much good. I say no more 
to-day. Fare you well, and bring the Bell to a happy 
end ; as also I advise some Nadowessian songs. If it is 
possible, do come next week ; it would really, too, be 
pretty if you could come into closer relations with Hirt, and 
could hear from himself his architectural deductions. 

Weimar, 8th July, 1797. 



Jena, lOth July, 1797. 

You have with few words, and in an artless dress, 
uttered glorious things in this treatise, and spread a truly 
admirable clearness over the beautiful subject. In fact, 
the treatise is a model of how one ought to look at and 
judge of works of art ; but it is also a model how one 
ought to apply principles. In regard to both, I have learnt 
very much out of it. 

More thereupon orally, for I intend to bring it with me 
to-morrow, when, if nothing intervenes, I shall be with 
you after three o'clock. In case I cannot well lodge with 
you, I beg you to let me know at the gate, through a note, 
so that I may then drive to my brother-in-law's. My wife 
comes with me, and we purpose staying till Thursday. 

Meyer's happy arrival in his native city, and the rapid 
improvement of his health, has given me hearty plea- 
sure. Also the certainty, at least for this autumn and 
winter, not to be so very far separated from you, is to me 
very comforting. 

Farewell. Humboldt prays you to send to Dresden as 
soon as possible his iEschylus, which he has need of. 





At parting, you could have given me nothing more 
grateful and wholesome than your visit of the last eight 
days. I believe I don't deceive myself when I look upon 
our being together this time as again very fruitful ; so 
much has been developed for the present, and prepared 
for the future, that I set off with more contentment, as on 
the way I hope to be right busy, and again look forward 
to your cooperation on my return. If we continue thus to 
execute simultaneously different works, and while we 
gently urge forward the larger, cheer and divert ourselves 
with smaller ones, much may be yet brought about. 

Here is the Polycrates back ; I hope that the Cranes 
will soon follow after me. By Saturday, you will hear 
more definitively about my departure. Fare you well 
and greet your dear wife. To Schlegel, I wrote to-day. 

Weimar, 19th July, 1797. 



Jkna, 21st July, 1797. 

I CAN never part from you without something having 
been planted in me ; and it gives me joy, if, for the much 
that you give me, I can set you and your inward wealth 
in motion. A relation thus built on reciprocal perfecti- 
bility must ever keep fresh and active, and gain the more 
in variety, the more harmonious it becomes, and the more 
diversity disappears, which, with so many others, is all 
that hinders uniformity. I may hope that by degrees we 
shall understand each other in everything, of which ac- 
count can be given, and in that which from its nature 
cannot be understood, we shall remain near to one another 
through feeling. 



The most beautiful and most fruitful way that I profit 
by our mutual communications, and appropriate them to 
myself, is always this, that I apply them immediately to 
the work I have in hand, and use them at once productive- 
ly ; and, as you say in the introduction to Laocoon, that 
the whole of Art lies in one single work, so I believe that 
one must transfuse all that is general in Art into the most 
particular case, if the reality of the idea is to be preserved. 
And thus, I hope, shall my Wallenstein, and whatever of 
importance I may in future produce, contain and show in 
the concrete the whole system of that which in our inter- 
course has been able to pass into my being. 

The longing after this work stirs again strongly within 
me, for now it is a more definite object that assigns to the 
faculties their activity, and each step is here more import- 
ant, instead of which, with new raw matter I am obliged 
so often to grasp about me empty-handed. I will now 
first try to get the songs for the Almanac ready, because 
the composers urge me so strongly, then try my luck at 
the Cranes, and with September return to the Tragedy. 

The accounts from you will bring a fruitful change into 
the simple existence to which I am now limited, and in 
addition to the new that you will convey to me, will reani- 
mate in me the old that has been treated of between us. 

And so farewell, and think of me when you are with 
our friend, as you will ever be present to us. My wife 
says to you a hearty farewell. 





To Professor Meyer, at Staefa. 

Jena, 21st July, 1797. 

Heartily we give you welcome on German ground, 
dear friend. Anxiety about you has often disturbed us, 
and cordially we rejoice at your returning health. 

I am ashamed that the first line from me reaches you 
while you are again on the return to us, but as much as I 
should have had to say to you orally, yet nothing presented 
itself that I should have cared to send over the mountains. 
What we were busied with and how it fared with us, that 
you learnt from our friend, and he will also have told you 
how much you were present to us. From him I have 
heard with hearty interest of what concerns you, how ex- i 
cellently you employed your time, and what treasures you 
were collecting for us all. 

Nor have we in the meantime been inactive, as you 
know, and least of all our friend, who in the last few years 
has really surpassed himself. His epic poem you have 
read ; you will admit that it is the pinnacle of his and all 
our modern art. I have seen it grow up, and have won- 
dered almost as much at the manner of its growth as at 
the completed work. Whilst the rest of us are obliged 
painfully to collect and to prune, in order slowly to bring 
forth anything passable, he has only gently to shake the 
tree, in order to have fall to him the most beautiful fruit, 
ripe and heavy. It is incredible with what ease he now 
reaps upon himself the fruits of a well-bestowed life and a 
persistent culture ; how significant and sure now all his 
steps are ; how the clearness as to himself and as to ob- 
jects, preserves him from every idle effort and beating 
about. But you have him now yourself, and can satisfy 



yourself of all this with your own eyes. But you will 
agree with me in this, that on the summit where he now 
stands, he ought to think more of bringing the beautiful 
form he has given himself to outward exhibition, than to 
go out in search of new material ; in short, that he now 
ought to live entirely for poetic execution. When once 
one among thousands who strive thereafter, has brought it 
to that, out of himself to make a beautiful complete whole, 
he can, in my opinion, do nothing better than to seek for 
this whole every possible mode of expression ; for how- 
ever further he may get to, he can still do nothing higher. 
I acknowledge, therefore, that all that by a longer resi- 
dence in Italy he might gain for certain ends, to me would 
nevertheless seem lost for his highest and most immediate 
end. Therefore prompt him on this account also, dear 
friend, to come back very soon, and not to seek too far for 
that which he has at home. 

I have the agreeable hope of having you both probably 
again near me this^ Winter, and thus to continue the old 
delightful life of inter-communication. My health is not 
much better, but also no worse, and that is a good sign ; 
the courage and will are left, and the transition from specu- 
lation to production has refreshed me and made me young. 

I have also in the interim become acquainted with your 
pupil, and have had much pleasure in her talent and agree- 
able nature. She thinks of you with lively interest ; and 
1 hope the poetic talent, which has since developed itself 
so finely in her, will not have injured the other. 

Farewell, my valued friend ; I look forward with eager- 
ness to the more direct accounts that G. will give me of 
you. My wife greets you heartily ; my family has, in the 



meanwhile, increased, as you perhaps know, and you will 
find Carl a fine well-disposed boy. 



To-day I say nothing but my best thanks for your two- 
fold farewell greeting, and for the Horen you sent. 

The longer I remain here the more trifles there are to 
do, and time passes without my either taking in or bring- 
ing forth anything, and I must take care that I don't grow 

Schlegel has just left me ; it seemed merely that his 
wish to form once more closer relations with you has this 
time again brought him hither. 

Could you have re-copied for me your Diver, Polycrates, 
and Glove? I sent my copies to Meyer. I may, perhaps, 
meet on the road a few good Christian or heathen souls to 
whom one might like to read such things. Before I set 
out I will at all events write again. 

Weimar, 22d July, 1797. 



Jena, 23d July, 1797. 

To wait with one's trunk packed is a most wretched 
condition, from which I wish you a speedy release. It is 
well that just at this time you see before you lighter occu- 
pations and sports, for which an interrupted and half mood 
at any rate suffice. 

Humboldt writes me that his wife has the fever again. 
That will be a fine journey, for they will now have to stay 
in Dresden over the time. I tell you this for comfort, as 
the other Jew did to Shylock : other people have ill 
luck too. 




The three pieces, which Humboldt has just sent back 
to me, I enclose herewith. 

Farewell. I will write again the day after to-morrow, 
if nothing in the meantime happens. 


To Boettiger I will send to-day the Klopstockiana, and 
have also written him a few lines. 

The news of your indisposition came upon me very 
disagreeably this morning early after a sleepless night ; I 
hope this letter will find you already mending, whereto, 
perhaps, the arrival of the Duke will contribute its part. 
You will, however, have cause to expect after this firmer 

I here send you, for your recreation, an entirely new 
work, which testifies to German industry in a quite new 
mode. Such a phenomenon. of nullity, absurdity, and im- 
pudence is really only possible in these latest times of our 
literature, when the rapid exchange of ideas and forms no 
longer leaves time to determine meum and tuum. I have 
found here printed, amongst other things, whole passages 
half a page long out of my aesthetic treatises, without mark 
of quotation, and wondered not a little to hear my ipsissima 
verba resound in my ears out of the kingly mouth. 

To make up for this, however, a new poet has announced 
himsfelf, who at last promises something better. He lives 
in Friedberg, near Frankfort ; his name is Schmidt, and 
from his whole habitus, I conclude that he must live in a 
right savage loneliness, and perhaps in a low station. 
From some samples which I enclose, you will see that the 
man has something in him, and that through a rough, hard 
diction, genuine deep sensibility and a certain free move- 




ment of mind are visible. When this half-savage shall 
have got his language and the verse well under command, 
and an outward grace to an inward substance, I hope to 
make in him an acquisition for future Almanacs. If he 
pleases you likewise, it were worth considering, whether 
you could not say something cheering to him in Frankfort, 
as well as to our Captain Steigentesh. 

I break off for to-day, for the pen almost falls out of my 
hand from weariness. Do let us hear to-morrow how you 
are ; my wife also sends you hearty wishes for your re 
CO very. Fare you right well. 

Jena, 24th July, 1797. 



Hearty thanks for your concern about my health. The 
effects of a cold plagued me very badly for four and twenty 
hours, but now I am again fully re-established, and hop 
yet to start on my journey at the end of this week 
Herewith comes the once more murdered, or rather the 
putrified, Gustavus the Third ; it is just such a beggar' 
soup as the German public like. This kind of writings 
has taken the place of the conversations in the realm of 
the dead, which always made great impression on our 
truth-loving nation. The new poet is right brave, and 
should like to make his acquaintance. You will perhaps 
amend here and there a trifle, only for the sake of clear 
ness. His loneliness and narrow circle are, in truth, very 
perceptible in him. 

The Duke arrived yesterday, and looks very well ; the 
celebrated Marianne Meyer is also here. It is a pity she 
hadn't come some days earlier, I should have liked you 



to become acquainted with this singular being. Fare you 
well, and greet your dear wife. When my eye fell upon 
poems in the hand-writing of your copyist, I thought I 
already saw the cranes flying. I am so out of mood that 
I must to-day quickly end even my prose. 

Weimar, 26th July, 1797. 



Jena, 28th July, 1797. 

In the uncertainty whether this letter will find you still 
in Weimar, I write you only a few words at parting ; we 
are all rejoiced to see you so soon recovered, and at last 
in the enjoyment of your wish. May the journey now 
have a good sequel, and if interesting acquaintances fail 
on the way, may it be shortened to you by the Muses. 
Perhaps out of your travelling ship there will fly a beau- 
tiful poetic dove, although cranes do not take their flight 
from South to North. These continue at rest with me, 
and I even avoid thinking of them, in order to send forth 
some other things first. Just now the poems of friends, 
male and female, the publication of Agnes Lilien, and the 
equipping of the Horen, draw me off" very much, and not 
at all agreeably. 

To Schlegel I made some comments on his Prome- 
theus, whereupon in the answer, which I enclose, he has 
explained himself at great length, but not very satisfacto- 
rily. I have, meanwhile, done my part, and at any rate 
the matter could not be mended. 

To my new Friedberger poet, Schmidt, and alsotoHoel- 
derlin, I have given notice of your coming arrival in Frank- 
fort ; it is now to be seen whether these good people will 
gather courage to present themselves before you. I hope 



they will, and also to you these poetic figures will per- 
haps not be unwelcome in prosaic Frankfort. You will 
likewise find there the imperial Captain von Steigentesh. 
Once more take our blessing on your journey, and fare 
you right well ! 



To-morrow, then, at last, I set off from this in earnest, 
but precisely four weeks later than I had intended. From 
the difficulty of getting off, my journey ought by rights to 
become very important ; I fear, however, that it will be 
like other human things. From Frankfort you will have 
soon at least a few words. 

Within a few days I have read aloud our Ballad-experi- 
ments, and perceived a good impression from them. In 
your Glove the doubt was started whether one could say 
an animal licks its tongue ; I really did not know what to 
say to it. 

I herewith send Schlegel's article back ; it is with 
poems as with actions, 'tis bad when ihey have to be 

Farewell. You said lately that only poetry can give 
the mood for poetry, and as this is very true, one sees how 
much time the poet loses when he mingles in the world, 
particularly when he has no dearth of matter. I shudder 
already at the breadth of the matter-of-fact world before 
me ; nevertheless, let us hope for the best, and when we 
meet again recruit ourselves once more in manifold re- 
citals and observations. Fare you right well with your 
dear wife and yours. 

Weimar, 29th July, 1797. 





Jena, 7th Aug., 1797. 

We are very desirous to hear, dear friend, how your 
journey ended. The oppressive heat by day, and the 
ahnost incessant storm by night, made us anxious about 
you, for here it was hardly to be borne, and I have not yet 
got up from it, so violently did it attack my nerves. 

I can therefore say little to you to-day, for T am scarcely 
beginning to feel myself free from strong stirrings of fever, 
which I have hafd for eight days past, and feared really 
that I should fall into a serious illness. 

Zelter sent within a few days the Melodies to your 
Bayadere, and to the song of Mignon. The latter pleases 
me particularly. The Melody to the Ballad does not 
indeed suit equally well all the strophes, but in some, as 
in the third from the last, the chorus, " Youth we carry," 
does very well. I enclose the Melodies, in case you meet, 
in Frankfort, with a pair of fine voices that can sing them 
to you. 

Herder has also sent me back our Ballads, which I had 
transmitted to him ; but what impression they made, I can- 
not ascertain from his letter. From it, on the other hand, 
I learn that in the Diver I have merely re-wrought with 
improvement a certain Nicholas Pesce, who must have 
narrated or sung the same story. Do you happen to know 
this Nicholas Pesce, with whom I am thus so unexpect- 
edly put in competition ? For the rest we can hope for 
absolutely nothing from Herder for this year's Almanac ; 
he complains of his poverty, but declares that he there- 
fore prizes the more others' v/ealth. 

I have lately taken up again Diderot sur la Peinture, in 
order again to invigorate myself in the animating company 
of this genius. It strikes me that it is with Diderot as 



with many others, who hit the truth with their feeUrig, but 
often lose it again through their reasoning. To me he 
looks altogether too much in works of art to foreign and 
moral ends ; he does not seek these sufficiently in the abso- 
lute condition and in its representation. To him the beau- 
tiful work of art must always serve for something else. 
And as the truly beautiful and perfect in art necessarily 
makes men better, so he seeks for this effect of Art in its 
argument and in a definite result for the understanding or 
for the moral sentiment. I believe it to be one of the 
merits of our latter philosophy, that we have a pure 
formula to express the subjective operation of the aesthe- 
tic, without destroying its character. 

Fare you well. Gladden us soon with good tidings. 
From my wife heartiest greetings, the children are well ; 
news I cannot give you from my narrow circle. 



Without the slightest mischance, I arrived in Frank- 
fort in spirits and health, and now, for the first time, in a 
quiet, cheerful house, I reflect upon what it is at my time 
of life to go into the world. At an earlier age, objects 
appear grander to us and perplex us more, because we 
cannot ji-dge them nor embrace them. Later we know 
things bei ter, a larger number of them interests ns, and we 
should be very badly off, if self-possession and method did 
not come to our help in these cases. I will put in order 
as well as possible everything that has occurred to me in 
these eight days, test my plan on Frankfort itself as a city 
that embraces so much, and then prepare myself for a fur- 
ther journey. 



It strack me as very remarkable what the peculiar char- 
acter of the public in a large city is. It lives in an inces- 
sant tumult of getting and spending, and that which we call 
high mood can neither be produced nor communicated. 
All pleasures, even the theatre, are intended only to dis- 
tract,* and the great fondness of the reading public for 
journals and novels arises precisely thence, that the former 
always, and the latter mostly, bring distraction to distrac- 

I even think 1 have remarked a kind of shyness towards 
poetic productions, or, at least, in so far as they are poetic, 
which, from these causes, appears to me quite natural. 
Poetry requires, nay, exacts, collectedness ; it isolates 
man against his will ; it forces itself on the attention 
repeatedly, and is in the broad world (not to say the great 
world) as inconvenient as a faithful mistress. 

I accustom myself now to write down everything as 
objects present themselves, and what I think about them, 
without requiring of myself the most accurate observation 
and ripest judgment, or thinking of a future use. When 
one has gone entirely over the whole ground, then one can 
always with better survey make use of the supply as ma- 

I have occasionally visited the theatre, and made my- 
self a methodical plan for judging of it. Whilst I now by 
degrees seek to fdl it out, it has for the first time forcibly 
struck me, that one could strictly write a tolerable book of 
travels only about foreign countries, where one has no rela- 
tions with anybody. About the place where one commonly 
resides, no one would venture to write anything, unless it 

* For the expressive German words zerstreuon, and Zerstreuung, 
I can find here no nearer equivalents than distract and distraction. 



were merely the enumeration of existing objects ; just so 
it is with whatever is in some measure near to us, one feels 
that it were a sacrilege if one should publicly utter even his 
most just and moderate judgment about things : these 
observations lead to very neat results and show me the 
way that is to go. Thus, for instance, 1 am now compar- 
ing the theatre here with that in Weimar ; when I shall 
have besides seen that of Stuttgart, something general may 
perhaps be said about the three that will be important, and 
that at any rate may likewise be publicly declared. 

Fare you well, and keep yourself in health and in 
^ enjoyment in your garden-house. Greet for me your dear 
wife. If I ever once more reach the Jena palace, no one 
will quickly drive me out of it. It is well that I have 
already contributed my part to the Almanac of the Muses, 
for on the journey I can as little hope to meet with a poem 
as with the Phcenix. 

Once more, the best farewell, 

Frankfort on the Maine, 4th Aug., 1797. 



Schmidt from Friedberg has been with me ; it was 
not a disagreeable, but neither was it a beneficent appari- 
tion. Upon the whole a handsome young man, a small 
head on moderate shoulders, admirable feet and ancles, 
spruce, cleanly, neatly dressed according to the fashion 
here, his features small and close together, small black 
eyes, black hair, cut close to the head, sans-culottishly. 
But about his brow the father of the gods had forged a 
brazen band. With his mouth he made extraordinary dis- 
tortions, as if he wished to give to what he said a certain 



additional peculiar expression. He is the son of a thrifty- 
merchant, who designed him for a clergyman ; thereby the 
man was shoved entirely out of his path. I believe that if 
he had been brought up to some circumscribed way of 
life and small trafficking business, he would have done right 
well, as he seems to have energy and a certain inward- 
ness ; I should like best to see him in a national guard. 
The sequel will show, but I fear there is not much joy to 
flow from his life. Considering that he is not a man in 
straitened circumstances, but one who from his talk, his 
appearance and dress, lives in moderate comfort, it is a 
bad sign that no trace of aspiration, liberality, love, trust- 
fulness, showed itself. To me he displayed himself in 
the shallow egotism of an ex-student. But at the same 
time no trace of rawness, nothing awry in his deportment, 
except the distortions of mouth. 

I took as the basis of my treatment that you sent him to 
me, and in this spirit I started various things, but, never- 
theless, nothing, either general or particular, that I said, 
resounded upon him, not even about Reinholdt and Fichte, 
notwithstanding that he has heard them both. I could 
draw nothing of moment out of him, except that a year 
since he obtained certain views of the world, through 
which he feels himself inclined to poetry (which, indeed, 
might be very well), but that he was also convinced that 
true culture consists only in a certain conjunction of philo- 
sophy and poetry. Against which I have nothing to say, 
if only I had not to hear it from a young man. For the 
rest he went away as he came, before a conversation on 
any one subject had been set afoot, and was to me for this 
short time significant enough. In his reserved manner he 
reminded me of Hölderlin, although he is taller and better 




made. So soon as I have seen the latter, I will present 
you with a closer parallel. As in the course of my life, 
particularly in former times, I have fallen in with many 
characters of this kind, and have learnt what they are 
strictly worth, I will further add a general remark. Men 
out of the mercantile class, who addict themselves to lite- 
rature, and especially to poetry, have and retain a peculiar 
tournure. In some is discernible a certain earnestness 
and heartiness, a certain fixedness of purpose and tenacity, 
in others a lively, active endeavor ; but they seem to me 
capable of no exaltation, nor of the idea whereon it de- 
pends. Perhaps I do this class injustice, and there are 
many out of other classes with whom it fares no better. 
Think through your experience, probably some exceptions 
will be found. 

It is mostly the habit to be anxious for those who are 
in motion, and oftentimes it should be the reverse. Thus, 
your dear letter of the 7th, says that you have not been 
well, whilst I suffered little or not at all from the tempest. 
The thunderstorms cooled the air in the night and morn- 
ing ; we started very early ; the hottest hours of the day 
we halted to feed ; and when even some portions of the 
way were made in the warm time of the day, for the most 
part there was a breeze on the heights, and in the valleys 
where brooks run. Suffice it, that I arrived at Frankfort 
with small inconvenience. Here I might now again ac- 
custom myself to the life of a large city, accustom my- 
self not only to travel, but to live while travelling, if this 
were not totally denied to me by fate ; for I feel right well 
that my nature strives only after coUectedness and harmo- 
nious moods, and has no enjoyment in anything that 
hinders these. Had I not in my Hermann and Dorothea 



an example, that modern subjects, taken in a certain sense, 
adapt themselves to the Epic, I would rather have nothing 
more to do with this empiric expanse. On the stage, as I 
also again see here, there were at the present moment 
much to do ; but one would have to take it lightly, and 
handle it in the Gozzian manner ; but it is not in any sense 
worth the trouble. 

Meyer received our Ballads very well. I have already 
had several letters from him here, because from Weimar 
I wrote him weekly letters to Staefa ; his is a pure, truly 
forward-striding nature, invaluable in every sense. I will 
but hasten to get possession of him once more in person, 
and then not let him from me again. 

I heartily pity the old man* on the Topf berg, that he is 
doomed, through God knows what strange temper, to 
obstruct the path of himself and others on his own ground. 
There I like a thousand times better the Frankfort bankers, 
merchants, brokers, traders, Jews, gamblers and jobbers, 
who at any rate bring somewhat to pass for themselves, 
although they trip up other people's heels. Nicholas 
Pesce, as well as I can recollect, is the hero of the tale 
that you have treated, a diver by trade. But, if our old 
friend with such an execution of the subject can still call 
to mind the chronicle which relates the story, how can we 
blame the rest of the public if with novels they ask — 
whether, then, all that is really true ? Just as remarkable 
an example is Diderot, who, with so high a genius, with 
such deep feeling and clear understanding, could not get 
to see, that culture through Art must go its own way, that 
it cannot be subordinated to any other culture, that it at- 

* Herder. 



taches itself so aptly to every other, &c., all which never- 
theless were easy to comprehend, because the fact stands 
out so prominently. 

Poor T. cuts a very ridiculous figure, who, after having 
sung and twittered his whole lifetime, just as kind Nature 
had shaped his throat and beak, is now striving to stretch 
out his individuality by means of the rack of the new 
philosophical exactions, and drags his beggarly jacket on 
the ground, in order to give assurance that he has in his 
wardrobe just such a royal mantle. I will immediately 
despatch the cxpos6 to Meyer. And yet these men, who 
can believe that what is naught in our Art is all, are better 
off than we others, who are more or less convinced that 
the all of our Art is naught. 

A sceptical materialism beseems a traveller. What is 
left in me of the ideal, is carried in a well-locked casket, 
like that Undinian pigmy-woman ; you will, therefore, 
have patience with me in this respect. Probably I shall 
be able to write down for you every little incident on the 
journey. I will, however, first wait for a couple of months : 
for, although in the empirical world almost everything has 
by itself a disagreeable effect on me, nevertheless the 
whole does very well, when one at last comes to a clear 
consciousness of one's self. Fare you well, and interpret 
for yourself, as you know me, my often strange words : 
for it were impossible for me to rectify myself, and to 
bring these rhapsodical fancies into any connection or 

Greet for me your dear wife, and hold in good estima- 
tion your Agnes and Amelia. One does not know what 
one has in such beings, until one looks about for their like 
in the broad world. You, my friend, have the gift to be 



effective as an instructor, which, to mc, is totally denied ; 
these two pupils will, I am sure, yet bring much to pass, 
if they will only communicate their views, and, in regard 
to the disposition of the whole, get a deeper insight into 
the fundamental requirements of Art. 


Frankfort, 14th August, 1797. 

Yesterday I witnessed the representation of the opera 
Palmyra, which, upon the whole, was very well and be- 
comingly given. In particular I had the pleasure of see- 
ing one department quite perfect, namely, the scenery ; it 
is by a Milanese, Fuentes, who is at present here. With 
scenic architecture there is the great difficulty, that one 
must have a knowledge of the principles of genuine archi- 
tecture, and yet at the same time depart from them to 
attain the end in view. Architecture, in the higher sense, 
ought to have an earnest, lofty, steadfast character and ex- 
pression — it can scarcely -give into the graceful without 
becoming weak — but, on the stage, everything should 
have a graceful air. Theatrical architecture should be 
light, ornamental, diversified, and yet at the same time it 
ought to represent the gorgeous, the elevated, the noble. 
The scenes, particularly the backgrounds, ought always 
to make pictures ; the scene painter must go a step further 
than the landscape painter, who likewise knov/s how to 
modify architecture according to his wants. The scenes 
in Palmyra give examples, from which the rules of scene 
painting might be deduced ; there are six scenes which 
follow one another in two acts, without any one being re- 
peated ; they are invented with very judicious variety and 
gradation. One sees from them that the artist is ac- 



quainted with all the resources of genuine architecture ; 
even where he builds as would not and should not be built, 
everything nevertheless retains the appearance of possi- 
bility, and all his structures are grounded on the idea of 
what is required in the real. His embellishments are 
very rich, but introduced and distributed with pure taste. 
In these is visible the great stucco school, which exists 
in Milan, and of which a knowledge can be got in the 
prints of AlbertoUi. All proportions tend to the slender, 
all figures, statues, bas-reliefs, painted lookers-on likewise ; 
but the extraordinary length, and violent postures of many 
figures, are not mannerism, but necessity and taste have 
so required them. The coloring is irreproachable, and 
the style of painting remarkably free and decisive. All 
the deceptions of perspective, all the attractions of masses 
directed towards certain points, are displayed in these 
works. The parts are perfectly distinct and clear, with- 
out being hard, and the whole is in the most admirable 
keeping. One beholds the studies of a great school, and 
the transmitted accumulations of several generations in 
the endless details, and one is authorized to say that here 
this Art has reached its highest point ; it is only a pity 
that the man's health is so feeble that his life is despaired 
of. I will see to putting better together and developing 
what I have here hastily thrown out. 

And so farewell, and let me hear from you soon. I 
have been often with you on your still height, and when it 
rains hard I recollect the purling of the Leutra and its 

I will not return until I at least feel a surfeit of the em- 
pirical, as we cannot conceive of a totality. Fare you 
right well, and greet all. 




^ Frankfort, 16th August, 1797. 

I HAVE fallen upon a thought, the which, because it may- 
become important for the rest of my journey, I will at 
once communicate to you, in order to hear your opinion as 
to how far it may be correct, and how far I shall do well 
to surrender myself to its guidance ? Whilst I went my 
quiet and cold way of observer, nay, of mere seer, I very 
soon remarked that the account I gave myself of certain 
objects, had a kind of sentimentality, which struck me to 
that degree that I was instantly moved to reflect upon its 
cause, and I found the following. In general, that which 
I see and experience attaches itself right well to all my 
other knowledge, and is not disagreeable to me, because it 
goes into the general mass of what I know, and helps to 
increase the capital. On the other hand, I could not 
name anything in the whole journey, that has in any way 
excited my sensibility, but I am now as calm and unmoved 
as I always have been amidst the commonest circumstan- 
ces and incidents. Whence therefore this apparent sen- 
timentality, which to me is the more remarkable, because, 
for a long time I have felt no trace of it in my nature, 
except the poetic mood. Might there not therefore in this 
case be the poetic state in connection with an object that 
is not entirely poetic, whereby is produced a certain mid- 
dle condition? 

I have therefore attentively considered the objects that 
produce such an effect, and to my astonishment observed 
that they are in fact symbolical, that is, as I scarcely need 
say, they are eminent cases, which in a characteristic 
manifoldness stand for the representatives of many others, 
embrace in themselves a certain totality, require a certain 



sequence, excite in my mind things similar and foreign, 
and thus from without as from within make pretension to a 
certain unity and universality. What a happy subject is 
to the poet they are to the man, and as in recapitulating 
them to one's self, one cannot give them any poetic form, 
one must nevertheless give them an ideal one, a human in 
the higher sense, what with a so very misused term I 
called sentimental. And you will therefore not laugh, but 
only smile, when, to my own astonishment, I tell you, that 
if I should note down anything from my travels for friends 
or for the public, I probably shall be in danger of writing 
sentimental travels. Yet I would not, as you well know 
me, fear any word, even the most decried, if the treatment 
justified me, nay, if I could be so fortunate as to restore to 
a decried word its dignity. 

I refer you to what you have yourself so beautifully un- 
folded, to what is the habitual use of language between us, 
and proceed. When is a sentimental object (which we 
may not despise, however troublesome it be) intolera- 
ble ? I answer, when the ideal is directly united with the 
common. This can only happen through an empty form- 
less manner, for both are thereby annihilated, the idea and 
the object ; the former, which can only be significant, and 
busy itself with what is significant, and the latter, which 
can be right stirring, stout and good, without being signi- 

So far I have found only two such objects ; the public 
square on which I live, Avhich, as respects its position and 
all that takes place upon it, is at every moment symbolical ; 
and the area of my grandfather's house, yard, and garden, 
which, from the contracted patriarchal condition in which 
an old magistrate of Frankfort lived, was through shrewd 



enterprising men changed into a useful place for goods and 
markets. Through sinoular casualties the establishment 
went down at the time of the bombardment, and is now, 
although mostly a heap of rubbish, worth notwithstanding, 
double of what eleven years ago was paid by the present 
proprietors to my family. In so far as it is easy to con- 
ceive that the whole be again bought and re-established 
by a new undertaker, you readily perceive that especially 
for me it must stand there as symbol of many thousand 
other cases in this thriving, trafficking city. 

In this case there is to be sure the addition of a very 
cherished recollection ; but if, made heedful by those 
cases, I shall in future, as I proceed on my journey, direct 
my attention not so much to the remarkable but to the sig- 
nificant, I should not fail to reap for myself and others a 
fine harvest. I will try here further what I can observe 
that is symbolical, but practise myself particularly on 
strange places, which I see for the first time. Should that 
succeed, without wishing to pursue the trial very exten- 
sively, if on every public square, in every moment,, one 
went deeply into the matter, so far as it were given one to 
go, one could not fail to carry off booty enough yet out of 
well-known lands and regions. 

Tell me v/hat you think of this in order that I may be 
expanded, confirmed, invigorated and cheered. The mat- 
ter is important, for it cancels at once and happily the con- 
tradiction which lay between my nature and experience, 
which formerly I could never solve. For I acknowledge 
to you that I would rather have returned directly home, to 
work out of the centre of my own being all kinds of phan- 
toms, rather than (inasmuch as it is not given to me to 
count up individual facts) have buffeted with the million- 



faced hydra of Empiricisin ; for whoever cannot look for 
enjoyment and advantage from it, should withdraw in good 

So much for to-day, although I have an important kin- 
dred chapter to treat of, which I shall on the next occasion 
take up, and shall beg you to give me your thoughts upon 
it likewise. Fare you right well, greet your family for 
me, and let no one, except those nearest to you, know or 
learn anything of my letters. 

Frankfort, 17th August, 1797. 



Jena, 17lh August, 1797. 

The picture which you give me of Frankfort and of 
large cities in general is not encouraging either for the 
poet or for the philosopher, but its truth is vividly evident ; 
and as it is an established point, that a man philosophizes 
and poetizes only for himself, there is, therefore, nothing 
to be said against it ; on the contrary, it confirms one in 
the good way already entered on, and cuts off every 
attempt to make use of poetry for anything outward. 

From my little experience, thus much has become clear 
to me, that, upon the whole, one cannot through poetry make 
people happy, but on the contrary, very uncomfortable, and it 
seems to me that where the one is not to be attained, there 
we should aim for the other. One must incommode them, 
destroy their self-satisfaction, put them into a state of un- 
easiness and astonishment. Poetry must cither confront 
them as a Genius or a Spectre. Only thereby do they 
learn to believe in the existence of Poetry and get to 
respect the Poet. I have moreover nowhere found this 
respect greater than in this class of people, although no- 



where so unfruitful and so without inward feeling. Some- 
thing there is in all that speaks for the poet, and however 
unbelieving a realist you may be, you must nevertheless 
concede to me that this X is the seed of idealism, and that 
nothing but this prevents real life with its common empiri- 
cism from annihilating all susceptibility for the poetical. 
It is indeed true, that the genuine poetical and aesthetic 
condition of mind is far from being thereby encouraged 5 
that it is rather often prevented thereby, just as freedom is 
through moral tendencies ; but much is already gained 
that an egress out of empiricism is opened. 

AVith my protege, Mr. Smith, I have, I see, acquired 
little honor, but I will hope the best so long as I can. I 
happen to be in that desperate state, that it must be of 
moment to me whether other people are worth anything, 
and whether something can be made out of them ; there- 
fore, I will give up these Schmidts and Hoelderlins as late 
as possible. 

Mr. Smith, as he now is, is indeed the counterpart-cari- 
cature of the Frankfort empirical world, and as this has not 
time to go into itself, so he and his like cannot go out of 
themselves. In the one case, I might say, we see sensi- 
bility enough, but no object for it ; in the other the naked 
empty object without sensibility. And thus these are eve- 
rywhere only materials for a man such as the poet needs, 
but they are scattered and have not taken hold of one 

I should like to know whether these Schmidts, these 
Richters, these Hoelderlins, are absolutely, and would 
under all circumstances have remained, so subjective, so 
overstrained, so monosyllabic ? Whether it is owing to 
r)Omething primitive, or whether only the want of an 



aesthetic nourishment and influence from without, and the 
opposition of an empiric world in which they live to their 
ideal tendency, has produced this unhappy effect ? I äm 
much inclined to believe the latter, and although a power- 
ful and happy nature triumphs over everything, it yet 
seems to me, that many a brave talent is lost in this way. 

It is certainly a very true remark you make, that a cer- 
tain earnestness and heartiness, but no freedom, calmness 
and clearness, are to be met with in those of a certain class 
who take to poetry. Earnestness and heartiness are the 
necessary natural consequence when an inclination and 
occupation finds contradiction ; and the merchant's son who 
makes poems, must already be capable of a greater degree 
of heartiness than common in order to have struck into such 
a path. But it is just as natural that he should turn moi-e 
to the moral than to the aesthetic side, because he feels with 
passionate violence, because he is driven into himself, and 
because objects rather repel than hold him fast, so that he 
can never attain to a clear and calm survey of them. 

On the other hand, as confirmation of your remark, I 
find that those who betake themselves to poetry out of a 
liberal condition, display a certain freedom, clearness, and 
lightness, but little earnestness and heartiness. With the 
former, the characteristic stands out almost to the extent of 
caricature, and always with a certain one-sidedness and 
hardness ; with the latter, want of the characteristic, flat- 
ness, and almost shallowness are to be feared. I should 
say that the latter are nearer to the aesthetic in form, the 
former in substance. On a comparison between our Jena 
and Weimar poetesses T have hit upon observations which 
I purpose hereafter communicating to you. 

I informed you that I had told A. my mind in a letter, 



and that I was anxious to have his answer. He has now 
written to me, and is very thankful for my candor. But 
how Uttle can be done for him I perceive from this, that he 
enclosed me the leaf containing the table of contents of his 
Poems, which none but a lunatic can have written. Cer- 
tain people are not to be helped, and especially not he 
whose brow God has encircled with a brazen band. 

At last you receive the Ihycus. May you be satisfied 
with it. I acknowledge that on nearer examination of the 
subject I found more difficulties than I at first expected ; 
however, I think I have for the most part overcome them. 
The two chief points whereon a successful execution 
hung, seemed to me, first, to bring into the narration a 
continuity which the rude fable had not ; and, secondly, 
to create the mood for the eflfect. I have not yet been 
able to put the last hand to it, as I only got through last 
evening ; and I am very desirous that you read the Ballad 
at once, in order that I may make use of your remarks. 
The most agreeable thing to me would be to hear, that in 
the essential points I have met your views. 

Herewith are also two specimen sheets of the Almanac. 
My next letter to you I shall enclose directly to Cotta, as 
I presume that towards the end of the month you will be 
no longer in Frankfort. 

For eight days past my health has been better, and in 
my house, likewise, all are well. My wife greets you 
heartily. From the Humboldts I have heard nothing fur- 
ther since their departure from Dresden. Out of the 
remains of Gotter I have received his Opera, the Island of 
Spirits, taken from Shakspeare's Tempest. I have read 
the first Act, which is very weak and a meagre dish. I, 
however, thank Heaven that I have some sheets in the 



Hören to fill up, and that, too, with so classical a writer, 
who, before his death, complained so bitterly of the Xenia. 
And thus then we force Gotter, who, living, would have 
nothing to do with the Horen, to stalk therein, dead. 
Farewell ; let me soon again hear from you. 



Frankfort, 22d August, 1797. 

Your rich and beautiful parcel was yet in time to reach 
me here. In a few days I expect to go away, and can 
still from this say to you a few words about the contents. 

The Almanac makes already an imposing show, espe- 
cially when one knows what is yet to come. The narra- 
tive poems give it a peculiar character. 

The Cranes of Ibycus I find very well done ; the transi- 
tion to the Theatre is very fine, and the Chorus of the 
Eumenides in the right place. This turn being now dis- 
covered, the whole fable can no longer stand without it, 
and I should likewise be obliged to adopt this chorus, if I 
could still think of treating the subject.* ^ 

Upon the genuine condition of an observing traveller, I 
have now my own experience, and I have discerned 
wherein very often lies the fault of books of travels. Let a 
man place himself as he will, yet in a journey he sees 
things only from one side, and is hasty in judgment ; but, 
on the other hand, he sees things from this side in a very 
lively manner, and his judgment is in a certain sense cor- 
rect. I have, therefore, had a blank book made, into 

* From this, and from a passage in a former letter, it seems that 
Goethe had had the project of a poem on the same subject. As my 
readers have not Schiller's poem before them, I omit from Goethe's 
letter a page of minute criticism. 



which I stitch all kinds of public papers that just now fall 
in my way, newspapers (daily and weekly), extracts from 
sermons, ordinances, play-bills, price-currents, and then I 
add as well what I see and remark, as also my judgment 
at the moment ; I then talk of these things in company, 
and bring forward my opinion, and thus I soon see in how 
far I am well-informed, and in how far my judgment coin- 
cides with the judgment of well-informed men. I then 
add likewise this new experience and instruction to the 
other papers, and thus there are materials which in future 
must be interesting enough as history of the outward and 
inward. If, with my previous knowledge and my mental 
practice, I choose to continue for awhile this handiwork, 
I can collect a large mass. 

I have already discovered one or two poetical subjects, 
which I shall lay up in my heart ; and then one can never 
know in the first moment what in the sequel will separate 
itself from the rough experience as true substance. 

With all this I will not deny that oftentimes I have a 
yearning towards the banks of the Saal, and were I trans- 
ported thither to-day, I should be able at once, without so 
much as a look backward, to begin my Faust or some other 
poetical work. 

Of Wallenstein, you think, I suppose, at present, little 
or not at all, as the Almanac must be provided for. Let 
me hear something of it whenever you get further for- 

The Theatre here is, in a certain sense, not bad, but 
much too weakly provided with actors ; it suffered, it is 
true, a year since, a very hard shock ; I really do not 
know what piece of value and dignity they could now play 
here tolerably. 




Frankfort, 23d August, 1797. 

Yesterday Iloeldeiiin was with me ; he looks some- 
what depressed and sickly, but he is very pleasing and 
open with modesty, nay with timidity. He entered upon 
several topics in a manner which betrayed your school ; 
many leading ideas he had appropriated to himself right 
well, so that he could also again easily take up many 
things. I particularly advised him to make small poems, 
and to select for each a subject with a human interest. 
He seemed still to have some inclination towards the mid- 
dle ages, in which I could not confirm him I shall not 
see Captain Steigentesh. He goes and comes ; my in- 
quiries have missed him several times, and a note which 
I left for him the last time, he will probably receive after 
my departure. Greet your dear wife, and our poetic fe- 
male friends. I have always hoped to be able yet to send 
you something for the Almanac ; perhaps the Swabian air, 
will be more fruitful. It is only on leaving this that I go 
properly into a foreign land, and shall long the more 
eagerly to find a letter from you at Cotta's. 



Frankfort, 24th August, 1797. 

Before leaving this, I will tell you of a work I have 
begun, and which will do well for the Horen. I have be- 
fore me about two hundred French satirical engravings ; 
I have at once classed them, and find them directed : 
I. Against foreign countries, 
a. England. 
h. The Pope. 
c. Austria. 



II. Against themselves, 
a. The old reign of terror. 
h. Follies of Fashion. 

1 . Represented in their exaggeration. 

2. In relation to one another. 

3. In relation to antiquated follies. 

4. In relation to finance or other political matters. 
c. Against enemies of artists. 

I have now begun to describe them singly, and it goes 
very w^ell ; for as they mostly address something to 
thought, are witty, symbolical, allegorical, they tell as 
well and even better to the imagination than to the eye. 
Thus one can make very good remarks about French 
genius and art in general, and although one neither can 
nor will imitate Lichtenberg, nevertheless the single pic- 
tures present themselves very gaily and airily, so that they 
will be very pleasant reading. In Switzerland I shall, no 
doubt, find others, and perhaps the earlier ones. Out of 
this a very pretty article would grow up, through which 
the October number would get a considerable contribution. 
In the Mercury and Journal of Fashion, and elsewhere, 
some have already been inserted, which I now embrace in 
the whole mass. I hope that various things of this and a 
like sort will turn up on the journey, and that from Octo- 
ber on I shall be able to furnish some lively contributions ; 
for after all, one has only to take it in hand, and then it 
will be done. The present Almanac gives me double 
pleasure, for we have brought it into being by sheer will 
£^nd resolution. If you will but go on cheering your poetic 
friends of both sexes and keep them active, we shall then 
only have to set ourselves down together again next spring 
for four weeks, and the next one will also be completed, 



Farewell, and write me often and much. My trmik is 
gone to Stuttgart, and if the weather, which for some time 
has heen rainy, cold, and gloomy, clears up again as it 
promises to do, I shall have the horses put to. I should 
like to have a very fair day for the "mountain-road." 



Jena, 30lh August, 1797. 

I BELIEVED myself on the road of improvement when 
last wrote to you, but for eight days past I have been suf- 
fering with a catarrhal fever and an obstinate coug 
which rages in my whole household. The fever has le 
me in quiet to-day, but the cough torments me very much 
and ray head is racked. I wished only to mention this 
my dear friend, in excuse for my silence. 

We await news from you with longing, and would lik 
to know where we have now to look for you. Here wit 
you receive new sample sheets. 

Your dear letter, which I received on the 20th, I must 
defer answering until my head gets clear again. 

Even on your journey I must plague you, dear friend 
Do think at times of the Horen, whether the journe 
itself could not furnish something to it. The need i 
great, and now the more so as I myself am unfit for an 
helpful work. With such interruptions I shall have trou 
ble to find time and mood for my Bell^ which is yet fa 
from being cast. 

Fare you well and cheerful, and continue to give me 
life from a distance. We and all that belongs to us think 
of you with the heartiest interest. My wife greets you a 
thousand times. Farewell. 




A few minutes since your last letter came in to our 
great and unexpected joy. Hearty thanks for what you 
say of the Ibycus, and whatever of your suggestions I 
can follow, I shall certainly do so. On this occasion 
again I have been made very sensible of how much is 
done even in invention by a vivid knowledge. 

Once more, thanks for your letter. If my state will 
permit it, I will write to you the day after to-morrow. 

Fare you right well. 



Stuttgart, 30th August, 1797. 

After" having last night often invoked you for your 
support, as the patron saint of all the children of men 
who suffer from sleeplessness, and also felt myself really 
strengthened by your example to survive one of the worst 
of bug-adventures in the belly of the Roman Emperor ;* 
it is now in conformity with my vow to inform you imme- 
diately of my condition. 

On the 25th I left Frankfort, and had a pleasant drive 
under a covered sky to Heidelberg, where, with a perfectly 
clear sunshine, I spent nearly all the next day in behold- 
ing the country with ecstacy. 

On the 27th I set off very early, rested^ during the heat 
in Sinzheim, and arrived still early enough at Heilbronn. 
This town with its environs interested me much ; I 
remained there the 28th, and on the 29th started so early 
that already by nine o'clock I was in Ludwigsburg ; in 
the evening at five I again drove off, and at sundown arrived 

Probably the name of an Inn. 



at Stuttgart, which, in its circle of mountains, lay serene- 
ly in the twilight. 

This morning, early, I made, alone, a rapid survey of 
the town ; its situation, as well as particularly its avenues, 
please me very well. In Mr. Rapp I found a very amia- 
ble man and valuable amateur of Art ; he has aright pretty 
talent for landscape drawing, good knowledge and practice. 
We went merely to Professor Dannecker's, where I found 
a Hector who upbraids Paris, a model executed in plaster 
somewhat above the size of life, likewise a reclining, 
naked, female figure, in the character of the love-sick 
Sappho, finished in plaster and begun in marble ; further, 
a small mourning, sitting figure, for a monument in a room. 
I saw further with him the model in plaster of a head of 
the present Duke, which, particularly in marble, is said to 
be very successfully executed, as also his own bust, which 
is full of genius and life without exaggeration. But what 
particularly struck me was the original cast of your bust, 
which has such truth and finish, that it really creates 
astonishment. The cast which you possess gives no idea 
of this work. The marble is to be cut after it, and if the 
execution is successful, there will be a very significant 
piece of sculpture. I saw also small models quite cleverly 
conceived and sketched ; only he fails there where our 
moderns all fait, in the choice of subjects. This topic 
which we have so often discussed, and lastly again on 
occasion of the treatise on Laocoon, always presents itself 
to me in its higher importance. When shall we poor 
Artists of these latter times lift ourselves up to this chief 
idea ! 

I likewise saw with him a vase of grey striped alabas- 
ter, by Isopi, of whom Wolzogen told us so much. It 



exceeds, however, all description, and no one can, without 
beholding it, form a conception of this perfection of work. 
The stone, in respect to color, is not favorable, but so 
much the more in its substance. As it can be more easily 
wrought than marble, things are possible in it to which 
marble would not adapt itself. If Cellini, as is to be pre- 
sumed, thus designed and finished his leaves and orna- 
ments, one cannot take it ill of him if he himself speaks 
of his work with ecstacy. 

They have begun to rebuild the portion of the palace 
which was burnt down under Duke Charles, just as it was 
finished, and they are now at work on the cornices and 
ceilings. Isopi models the parts, which are then cast and 
set in by other workmen. His decorations are very spirit- 
ed and tasteful ; he has a particular fancy for birds, which 
he models very well, and combines agreeably with other 
embellishments. The composition of the whole has some- 
thing original and light. 

In Professor SchefTauer's studio (himself I did not find 
in), I saw a sleeping Venus, with an Amor, who is uncover- 
ing her, of white marble, well executed and well placed ; 
only the arm, which she has brought backward under her 
head, had not a good effect from the chief point of view. 
Some bas-reliefs, of antique purport ; likewise the models 
of the monument, which the consort of the present Duke is 
erecting upon the recovery of the Duke, brought about by 
the prayers of the people and the family. The Obelisk 
stands already on the palace square, ornamented with 
plaster casts. 

In the absence of Professor Ketsch, his wife showed 
us his work-room. His family picture, in full length 
figures of the size of life, has much merit, particularly is 



his own remarkably true and natural. It was painted in 
Rome. His portraits are very good and animated, and 
are said to be very excellent likenesses. He is at work 
on an historic picture, out of the Messiah, where Marie 
converses with Porcia, the wife of Pilate, of the bliss of 
eternal life, and convinces her of it. What say you on 
the whole to this choice ? And what can a beautiful face 
express which is to feel in anticipation the ecstacy of 
Heaven ? Moreover, for the head of Porcia he has made 
two studies after nature, the one from a Roman woman, a 
splendid brunette, full of spirit and feeling, and the other 
from a blonde, a good soft German. The expression of 
both faces is, as might be expected, anything but unearth- 
ly ; and even if a picture could be thus made, no individual 
features should appear in it. Meanwhile, one would like 
to have the Roman head always before one's eyes. A 
thought so arch-German vexed me. Alas ! that the 
good plastic artist will vie with the Poet, while, through 
what he alone can do, and should do, he might bring the* 
Poet to despair ! 

1 found Professor Mueller at the portrait of Graff, which 
Graff painted himself. He is also busy with the Death of 
a General, and that an American, a young man, who fell 
at Bunker Hill. The picture is by an American, Trum- 
bull, and has merits of the artist, and faults of the amateur. 
The merits are, very characteristic and admirably handled 
portrait faces ; the faults, disproportions between the dif- 
ferent bodies, and between their parts. It is composed, 
relatively to the subject, right well, and, for a picture in 
which there must be so many red uniforms, very judi- 
ciously colored ; yet, at the first view, it makes a glaring 
impression, until one gets reconciled to it on account of 


its merits. The engraving makes a very good wliolo, and 
is in its parts excellently done. I saw, likewise, the 
admirable engraving of the last King in France, displayed 
in a capital impression. 

Towards evening, we visited Counsellor RiielT, who 
possesses an admirable collection of drawings and en- 
gravings, whereof a part, for the pleasure and convenience 
of amateurs, is hung up under glass. Then we went to 
Mr. Rapp's garden, and I had once more the pleasure of 
enjoying the intelligent opinions so well grounded in feel- 
ing, of this man upon many subjects of Art, as well as 
Danneckcr's sprighlliness. 



31st August, 1797. 

Here you have about the purport of my yesterday, 
which, as you see, I spent very well. For the rest, there 
^vere many more remarks to be made. Particularly sad 
for architecture was the observation, what Duke Charles 
with his striving after a certain magnitude might have 
effected, if he had had the true sense for this Art, and if 
he had been so fortunate as to find able artists for his 
edifices. But it is obvious his inclination was merely for 
a certain imposing showy style, without taste, and in his 
earlier days architecture had declined in France, whence 
he took his models. I am now full of desire to see Ho- 

After all this that I have written down, as if to yourself 
a great part of it were not already known, I must tell you, 
that on the way I fell upon a poetic form, in which we 
hereafter must do more, and which perhaps will do good 
to the next Almanac. I mean Conversations in Songs. 



We have, in a certain elder German period, right clever 
things of the sort, and in this form much may be said, 
only one must enter well into it, and get at what is pecu- 
liar to the species. I have begun such a conversation 
between a youth, who is in love with the maid of a mill, 
and the mill-stream, and hope to send it to you soon. 
Through this direction, life is given to the poetic, figura- 
tive, allegorical, and especially when travelling, where so 
many objects address themselves to you, it is a very good 

On this occasion, likewise, it is note-worthy to consider 
what subjects adapt themselves to this particular mode of 
treatment. I cannot tell you, to repeat my former com- 
plaint, how much mistakes as to subjects at present 
diisturb me, especially on account of the sculptors : for 
these artists evidently pay the dearest for the fault and the 
stupidity of the time. So soon as I get with Meyer, and 
can use his reflections, which he has announced to me, I 
will set immediately to work and put together in writing' 
at least the chief points. In the meantime, do you too 
reflect further on poetic forms and subjects. 

Upon the dramatic-comic I have several times had oc- 
casion to think ; the result is, that it can only be perceived 
in a large, more or less rough mass of people, and that, 
alas ! with us we have no such capital out of which to 
draw usurious poetic interest. 

Here they have sufi'ered much, and continue to suffer, 
from the war. If the French took from the country five 
millions, the Imperial troops are said to have already con- 
sumed sixteen millions. On the other hand, a stranger is 
truly astonished at the prodigious fertility of this country, 
and comprehends the possibility of bearing such burthens. 



You and yours are remembered with much love and 
pleasure ; nay, I may well say, with enthusiasm. And 
herewith I say you a farewell for to-day. Cotta* has 
given me a friendly invitation to lodge with him ; I have 
accepted it with thanks, as hitherto, especially in hot 
weather, I have suffered more in the inns than on the road. 


4th September. 

This letter may now at last go off ; I hope to find one 
from you at Cotta's, in Tuebingen, where I purpose soon 
to arrive. Here it has gone very well with me, and I 
have had much satisfaction in the society into which your 
note introduced me. They have sought in all ways to 
entertain me, and to show me everything, and have made 
me acquainted with a number of persons. If Meyer were 
here, I could readily make up my mind to remain still 
longer. It is natural, that in the mass of art and science, 
I am just now beginning to discern many things that I 
could use to my advantage ; for, it is really remarkable, 
what an active endeavor lives among these men. But 
what especially pleases me, and would make a longer 
residence agreeable, is, that in this short time with those 
persons whom I have seen often, I have, through inter- 
change of ideas, really advanced in culture, so that the 
intercourse has been fruitful for both parties. Upon some 
leading points I have really had a clear understanding 
with Dannecker, and into some others Rapp appears to 
enter, who has z. very comfortable, cheerful, liberal exist- 
ence. It is true that his principles are yet the principles 
of an amateur, which, as is well known, have a quite pe- 

* The celebrated publisher 



culiar tour nur and one which is not exactly favorable to 
solid Art ; nevertheless, he feels naturally and with viva- 
city, and seizes readily the reasons of a judgment in Art, 
although it differs from his own. I think of leaving this 
the day after to-morrow, and hope to find a letter from you 
in Tuebingen. 

In addition to my keeping a record with tolerable dili- 
gence of what happens to me, I have noted down various 
things that were put in motion in me by circumstances 
and conversations, whereby gradually short treatises arise, 
which perhaps in the end will unite together. 

Farewell, and continue Irom time to time to write to me 
to the care of Cotta, who will always be informed of my 
place of residence. 



Your letter of the 30th August, which I received on 
my arrival in Tuebingen, promises me that a second is 
soon to follow it, which however as yet has not come to 
hand ; if only the illness of which you write is not the 
cause of this delay. 

I am glad that you can make use of what I wrote you 
about the Ibycus ; it was the idea whereon in fact I in- 
tended to build my performance ; conjoined with your 
otherwise successful treatment, the whole can thereby 
attain to completeness and roundness. If you can only 
get the Bell ready for this Almanac ! for this poem will 
be one of the most distinguished, and an" especial orna- 
ment to the Almanac. 

Since the 4th of September, when J dispatched my last 
letter, everything has gone well with me. I remained in 



Stuttgart three days longer, in which I became acquainted 
with several more persons, and saw much that was interest- 
ing. As I could perceive that my relation to Rapp and 
Dannecker was growing closer, and that both were not 
disinclined to embrace some principles which I regard as 
theoretically so important, and they on their part commu- 
nicated to me much that was good, agreeable, and useful, 
I resolved to read my Herrmann to them, which I then 
accomplished in one evening ; I had every cause to be 
pleased with the effect it produced, and to all of us those 
hours were fruitful. 

Since the 7th, I am in Tuebingen, whose environs I 
visited with pleasure in fine weather, during the first days 
after my arrival, and now I cheat a rainy season of its in- 
fluence through social intercourse. At Mr. Cotta's I have a 
cheerful room, and between the old church and the aca- 
demical buildings a friendly though narrow outlook into 
the Neckar valley. In the meanwhile I am preparing for 
my departure, and my next letter you will receive from 
Stäfa. Meyer is very well, and eagerly awaits me. It 
is not to be calculated what our meeting may be, and 
produce for us both. 

The nearer I become acquainted with Mr. Cotta, the 
better he pleases me. For a man of energetic thought, 
and enterprising mode of business, he has so much tem- 
perance, gentleness, and coUectedness, so much clearness 
and steadfastness, that he is to me a rare phenomenon. I 
have made acquaintance with several of the professors 
here, very valuable men in their departments, way of 
thought and life, who seem to be all well suited to their 
position, without at the same time exactly requiring an 
active academic circulation. The great institutions seem 



to be like the great edifices that inclose them ; they stand 
like calm Colossuses grounded on themselves, and create 
no lively activity, which they don't need for their mainte- 

I have been singularly taken by surprise here, by a 
small work of Kant, which you no doubt will know — 
Proclamation of the Near Conclusion of a Treaty for Eter- 
nal Peace in Philosophy. A very valuable product of his 
well known way of thinking, which, like everything that 
comes from him, contains the most noble passages, but is 
also in composition and style more Kantish than Kant. It 
gives me great pleasure that the prominent philosophers, 
and the preachers of prejudice, could so vex him that he 

opposes them with all his power. 


I must not forget to congratulate you on the happy pro- 
gress of the Almanac, and on Knight Poggenburg. 



Jena, 7th September, 1797. 

At last I begin to feel myself again and to find again my 
mood. After the departure ofmy last letter to you I got worse; 
I had not been so ill for a long while, until at last an emetic 
brought things into order again. Almost all my occupa- 
tions ceased in the meanwhile, and the few tolerable mo- 
ments that I had the Almanac laid claim to. Such an oc- 
cupation, through its uninterrupted, inexorable monotony, 
has in it something salutary, as it abolishes all arbitrary 
action and presents itself undeniably like the day. You 
gather yourself up, because it must be, and the work does 
not go on the worse for the definite demands that you 
make on yourself. We shall soon be through with the 



printing of the Almanac, and if the accessories, cover, 
title-page, and music, cause no delay, the little work may- 
yet be sent off before Michaelmas. In the Ibycus I have 
undertaken, according to your advice, essential changes ; 
the exposition is no longer so meagre, the hero of the Ballad 
excites more interest, the Cranes fill the imagination also 
more, and command the attention sufficiently so as at their 
last appearance not to be forgotten through v^^hat has gone 

I have sent the Ballad in its altered form to Boettiger, to 
learn from him v^^hether there is anything in it inconsistent 
with ancient Grecian usages. So soon as I get it back, I 
shall put the last finish to it, and then hasten with it to the 
press. In my next letter I hope to send it to you, together 
with all the rest of the Almanac printed. Schlegel, also, 
has sent me another tale, in which the story of Arion, with 
the dolphin, is treated. The conception were right good, 
but the execution seems to me cold, dry, and without 
interest. He would like, also, to handle Sacontala as 
a ballad, a strange undertaking for him, from which may 
his good angel preserve him. 

Your letter of the 16th August I received much later, 
as Boettiger, who had to attend to it, was absent. The 
sentimental phenomenon in you doesn't at all astonisli me, 
and I think you yourself have satisfactorily explained it. 
It is a want of poetic natures, not to say of the human 
mind generally, to bear around it as little as possible that 
is void, to appropriate to itself through feeling as much 
world as is going on, to look for the bottom of all appear- 
ances, and to require everywhere a whole of humanity. Is 
the object as individual empty and in a poetic view with- 



out import, then the combining faculty will make a trial 
with it, and take hold of it by its symbolical aids, and thus 
out of it make a language for humanity. Always, how- 
ever, is the sentimental (in the good sense) an effect of 
the poetic endeavor, which is not entirely satisfied, be it 
from causes which lie in the object, or from such as lie in 
the mind. Such a poetic demand, without a pure poetic 
mood, and without a poetic object, seems to have been 
your case, and what you consequently experienced in your- 
self is nothing but the common history of the sentimental 
mode of feeling, and confirms all that we have together 
established in regard to the matter. 

Only one thing more must I mention in connection 
herewith. You express yourself as if much depended on 
the object, what I cannot grant. It is true the object must 
signify something, just as the poetic object must be some- 
thing ; but at last it depends upon the mind whether an 
object shall mean anything ; and thus it seems to mc 
that the empty and the significant lie more in the subject 
than the object. It is the mind that here fixes the boun- 
dary, and the common or genial I can also find here as 
everywhere only in the treatment, not in the choice of sub- 
ject. What the two public squares were to you, would, 
perhaps, have been to you under other circumstances, 
with a more open, poetic mood, every street, bridge, every 
ship, a plough, or any other mechanic instrument. 

By no means, however, reject these sentimental ex- 
pressions, and give them expression as often as you can. 
Nothing, except the poetical, cleanses the mind so much 
of the empty and common as this view of things ; a world 
is thereby laid in the single object, and superficial appear- 
ances acquire thereby an infinite depth. Is it not poeti- 



cal ? still it is, as you yourself express it, human, and the 
human is always the beginning of the poetical, which is 
only its summit. 

I have to-day, the 8th, received a letter from Cotta, who 
tells me that you have been in Stuttgart since the 30th. 
I cannot think of you in Stuttgart without at the same 
time falling into a sentimental mood. What would I have 
given sixteen years ago to meet you on that ground, and 
how strange it is to me when I think at the same time of 
the circumstances and conditions of mind which that place 
recalls to me and of our present relation. 

I am curious how long you found inclination and cause to 
tarry in those regions. I hope my letter of the 30th found 
you still there ; this one will probably reach you first in 
Zurich, and with our friend, whom I cordially greet. 

Write me in your next letter what is to be done with 
the copies of the Almanac that are destined for you, 
whither and to whom I shall send them. 

I am heartily glad that you have thought of the Huren. 
and give me cause to hope for something for October. 
With the arrangements you have made to master the mass of 
experience round you, inexhaustible materials must flow ' 
in to you. 

It was very agreeable to me that Iloelderlin presented 
himself to you ; he wrote me nothing about his intending 
to do it, and must, therefore, have taken courage all at 
once. Here is another poetic genius, of Schlegel's sort. 
You will find him in the Almanac. He has imitated 
Schlegel's Pygmalion, and furnished a symbolical Phaeton 
in the same taste. The production is foolish enough, but 
the versification and single good thoughts give it some 



Farewell, and continue as heretofore to let me follow 
your spirit. Hearty greetings from my wife. Your little 
boy is, I hear, entirely restored. 



Jena, 14th September, 1797. 

To my joy I learn from your Stuttgart letters, that you 
like my native land, and that the persons whom I recom- 
mended to you have not given me the lie. I doubt not 
that these seven days which you yourself spent there with 
pleasure and profit, will make epochs for Dannecker and 
Rapp, and will have very good results. The first espe- 
cially is highly capable of culture, and he wants nothing 
but good fostering from without, which should give to his 
rich natural abilities the proper direction. 

It is only from a certain exuberance that I can account 
for his mistakes, as he otherwise takes hold of Art so ear- 
nestly, and in some leading points goes at its true essence ; 
it seems to me that his poetic imagination confounds itself 
with the artistic, in which he is by no means deficient. 

In a general point of view, I ask you, on this occasion, 
whether the tendency of so many able artists of modern 
times to poetise in Art, is not to be explained from this, 
that in a period like ours there is no other passage to the 
aesthetic than through the poetic, and that consequently all 
artists who make pretension to genius, for the very reason 
that they have been aroused through a poetic sensibility, 
also show in plastic representation a poetic imagination. 
The evil were not so great had not unfortunately the 
poetic spirit in our times taken a special direction so un- 
favorable to the culture of art. But inasmuch as poetry 
has deviated so widely from its generic idea (through 



which alone it stands in contact with the imitative arts), it 
is no good leader to art, and can at most exert in the artist 
a negative influence (by raising him above common na- 
ture), but by no means a positive active one (by designa- 
tion of subjects). 

And this aberration of plastic artists in modern times is 
to me satisfactorily accounted for through our ideas on 
material and ideal poetry, and furnishes a new proof of 
their truth. I represent the matter to myself as follows : 

The poet and artist has two things to do ; to lift himself 
above the real, and to keep within the circle of the sensu- 
ous. Where both are combined, there is aesthetic art. 
But if his own nature is unpropitious, and not apt at forms, 
he quits not only the real, but too easily likewise the 
sensuous, and becomes ideal, and, if his understanding is 
weak, even fantastic ; but if, controlled by his own nature, 
he wishes to and must abide in the sensuous, he also 
readily confines himself to the real, and becomes, in the 
limited sense of the word, material, and if he is altogether 
wanting in imagination, servile and common. In neither 
case, therefore, is he aesthetic. 

The reduction of empiric forms to aesthetic is the diffi- 
cult operation, and here is generally wanting either the 
body or the spirit, truth or freedom. The old models, as 
well in the poetical as in the plastic, seem to me especially 
to afford this advantage, that they display an empiric na- 
ture, which is already reduced to an aesthetic one, and 
that, after a deep study of them, they can even give you 
hints as to the mode of effecting the reduction. 

Out of despair at not being able to reduce the empiric 
nature wherewith he is surrounded to an aesthetic, the 
modern artist of lively fancy and genius prefers entirely to 



abandon it, and seeks in the imagination for help against 
the empiric world, against reality. He puts a poetic sub- 
stance into his work, which otherwise would be empty and 
barren, because it wants that substance which must be 
drawn out of the depths of the subject. 


15th September. 

It w^ere admirable if you unfolded with Meyer your 
thoughts upon the choice of subjects for poetic and plastic 
representation. This matter stands connected with the 
inm.ost being of art, and v/ould be, at the same time, 
through its immediate and easy application to real works 
of Art, very practical and engaging. I, for my part, will 
also try to set forth clearly my thoughts thereon. 

For the present," it seems to me that we might with 
great advantage start from the idea of the absolute definite- 
ness of the subject. It would namely become apparent, 
that all works of Art that have been failures through an 
unskilful choice of subject, are clmrgeable with such an 
indefiniteness, and the arbitrariness which is a conse- 
quence thereof. 

The idea of what is called a pregnant moment, appears 
to me perfectly explicable through its qualification for a 
thoroughly definite precise representation. In the poetic 
class I know no case but your Herrmann. Here, per- 
haps, it might be shown by a kind of induction, that with 
every other choice of action, something must have remained 

If now, with this proposition, we combine the other, 
namely, that the selection of the subject must always take 
place through the means that are peculiar to one class of 
Art, that it must be made within the particular limits of each 



species of Art, we should have, it seems to me, a sufTicient 
criterion, not to be misled in the choice of subjects. 

But in truth, even if this be sound, the application of the 
principle is difficult, and might in all cases be more an 
affair of feeling and of presentiment than of clear con- 

I am very curious about the new poetic genius, of which 
you intend soon to send me something. The rich shifting 
variety of your imagination astonishes and delights me, 
and although I cannot follow yon, it is an enjoyment and a 
profit to me to send my eyes after you. From this new 
kind, I expect* something very graceful, and understand 
already beforehand how well fitted it must be to impart a 
poetic life and a genial movement to the commonest 

From our friend Humboldt I received letters to-day. He 
is no longer pleased with Vienna, and has also as good as 
given up the Italian journey, but is almost resolved to go 
to Paris, which however, probably, after the late events 
there, he will not carry into efTect. He writes that about 
this time he Avill give you ncAvs of him.self. 

All are well in my house, and we yesterday celebrated 
with much joy Carl's birth-day. To-day we had Vent 
from Weimar, with us, whom I like very well ; beyond 
this, my society has not been increased by any new figure. 
My wife thinks of you with hearty interest, and my brother 
and sister-in-law send their best regards to you. 

Fare you right well. Greet Meyer, and remember me 
in your circle. Your letters are for us richly laden ships, 
and make at present one of my highest enjoyments 


Do but look at the sheet in which I envelope. 




Jexa, 22d September, 1797. 

Your letter, together with its accompaniment, gave us 
again great pleasure. The song is full of cheerful humor and 
nature. It seems to me that this species must on this ac- 
count be very favorable to the poet, that it relieves him of 
all troublesome side-work, such as introductions, transi- 
tions, descriptions, and permits him to work with a light 
hand only at what is genial and significant in his subject. 

Here, then, were the outset to a new collection, the be- 
ginning of an " infinite" series : for this poem has, like all 
good poetry, an entire class within itself, through the 
mood which it gives, and the form it presents. 

I should have been very desirous of observing the im- 
pression which your Herrmann made on my Stuttgart 
friends. There was, I am sure, no want of a certain 
heartiness of reception, but so few men can calmly enjoy 
the naked of human nature. I, however, doubt not at all, 
that your Herrmann will thoroughly triumph over all these 
subjectivities, and do it through the finest quality in a 
poetic work, namely, through its whole, through the pure 
clearness of its form, and through the fully exhausted cir- 
cle of human feelings. / 

My last letter already announced to you, that I was 
obliged to lay the Bell aside. I acknowledge that this, 
seeing that it had to be done, is not so entirely disagree- 
able to me ; for it is only after carrying the subject about 
with me, and keeping it warm, that the poem, which is 
really no small task, can attain to its true ripeness. This, 
too, is the ballad-year, and the next has already quite the 
appearance of becoming the song-year, to which class 
also the Bell belongs. 


In the meanwhile, I hav'n't lost the last eight days for 
the Almanac. Chance brought me a very pretty theme 
for a ballad, which, too, is nearly finished, and, I think, 
concludes the Almanac not unworthily. It consists of 
twenty-four stanzas of eight lines each, and is called, 
The Going to the Forge, from which you see that I lay 
claim also to the element of fire, after having travelled 
over water and air. The next post will deliver it to you, 
together with the Almanac, printed. 

I wish very much that the Cranes, in the form in which 
you now read them, may satisfy you. They have unques- 
tionably gained through the idea which you gave me for 
the exposition. 1 believe, also, that in the beginning the 
Strophe was wanting, which I have devoted to the Fai- 
ries, for their more precise delineation. 

I have also read Kant's small treatise, and, although it 
contains nothing strictly new, I have enjoyed his fine 
thoughts. There is in this old gentleman still something 
so youthful, what one might almost call aesthetic, if the 
monstrous form, which might be called a philosophical 
chancery style, did not embarrass one. It may be with 
Schlosser as you say, nevertheless his position in refe- 
rence to the critical philosophers has something in it so 
doubtful, that it was not to be expected that he should be 
left out. Moreover, it seems to me, that in all disputes 
where supernaturalism is defended against reason by think- 
ing heads, there is cause for imputing bad faith ; expe- 
rience is altogether too old, and besides the thing is so 

We are now enjoying here very fine autumn days ; with 
you, I suppose there are still left traces of summer. In 
my garden great operations are afoot, to improve it for 



the coming years. We have had, however, no bad harvest 
of fruit, on which occasion Carl made much sport for us. 

With the doubtful aspect of war and peace, we still 
doubt as to the speedy execution of your Italian journey, 
and sometimes give place to the hope that we - may see 
you with us again sooner than we dared expect. 

Farewell, and give to Meyer the most friendly greetmgs 
from me ; heartily do we wish you joy on your re-union. 
My wife sends you her best greetings. 



Staefa, 25th. September, 1797. 

Your most welcome letter of the 7th September, I 
received here the day before yesterday. As it was longer 
on the road than I hoped, I could not but fear that your 
disease had increased, which now, alas ! I learn from 
your letter was the case. Would that in your quietness 
you could enjoy as good health as I in my motion ! A 
sheet, which 1 enclose, will tell you how it has fared with 
me since I left Tuebingen. Meyer, whom now, to our 
mutual joy, I have found again, is as well as ever, 
and we have already chatted together about a thousand 
things. He comes back again with fine treasures of 
art, and with treasures of a very accurate observation. 
We have now to consider in what forms we shall use a 
portion of them, and for what purposes we shall layby the 
other portion. 

In a few days, we are going to the Lake of the Four 
Cantons. The great natural scenes which surround it I 
must behold once more, as we are so near them, for the 
rubric of these gigantic rocks must not be wanting among 
the chapters of my journey. I have already got together 



a couple of stout bundles, wherein all that I have learnt or 
seen, or collected, is written or stitched in, so far the 
oddest mixture in the world, from which I cannot, as I at 
first hoped, pick out something for the Horen. 

I hope yet to add much to this collection, and can 
thereby test myself on various subjects. There is an en- 
joyment after all, at last, when one feels that he can sum 
up so many things, the fruits of the gTeat, and in the be- 
ginning apparently unfruitful, labors, with which he has in 
his life been tormented. 

As Italy, through its earlier disturbances, and France 
through its latest, are more or less closed against foreign- 
ers, we shall, from the summit of the Alps, follow back 
the fall of the waters, and down the Rhine, turn our steps 
again towards the north, before the bad weather begins. 
Probably, we shall reside contented together this Winter, 
at the foot of the Foxtower ; nay, I even surmise that 
Humboldt will keep us company. The whole caravan, as 
his letter tells me, which I received in Zurich, has like- 
wise given up the journey to Italy ; they are all coming 
to Switzerland. The younger intends to take a look at 
this country, which is in several respects so interesting to 
him ; and the elder will probably have, under present cir- 
cumstances, to give up a journey to France which he had 
projected. They leave Vienna on the first of October ; 
perhaps I shall wait for them in this region. 

And now I turn my thoughts to you and your labors. 
The Almanac makes really a good figure, only the public 
will miss the pepper to the melons. In general, nothing- 
is so longed for as another cargo of Xenia, and people 
will be distressed not to be able to renew acquaintance 
with these rogues they have so much abused. I am very 



glad that through my advice the beginning of your Ihycus 
has acquired a greater breadth and fullness ; as to the 
conclusion, it will turn out that you were right. The 
artist must himself know best in how far he can avail him- 
self of others' suggestions. The Phrnton is by no means 
badly made, and the old tale of the e ver unsatisfied strug- 
gle of noble humanity after the original source of its 
charming existence, is worked up quite passably. Meyer 
could not read the Prometheus through, which is certainly 
a bad sign. 

The copies of the Almanac which you intend for me 
have the goodness to lay by for me ; for you probably will 
have sent one in your own name to the reigning Duchess. 
I want much to see this little work together. 

Out of my earlier letters you will have seen that every- 
thing went well and pleasantly with me in Stuttgart. You 
were often mentioned, and by many, and always in the 
best way. For us both, I believe it was an advantage that 
we came together later, and when we were more cul- 

Tell me in your next letter how you intend to establish 
yourself for the coming Winter ? Whether your plan is 
directed upon the garden, the Griesbach House, or 
Weimar ? I wish you the most comfortable situation, in 
order that, with your other ills, you may not have to con- 
tend with the weather. 

If, after the receipt of this, you write immediately, have 
the goodness to address the letter directly to Zürich, with 
merely the addition, to the care of Captain Ott, at the 
Sword Inn. I can calculate that this will be on the road 
eight days, that the answer will be the same, and I shall 
reach Zurich from niy mountain excursion about the mid- 
dle of October. 



For the news that my little boy is well again, I am the 
more thankful to you, because for some time I haA^e re- 
ceived no direct advices, and the letters from my home 
must be detained somewhere. This anxiety alone has 
given me many sad moments, whilst otherwise everything 
went well and happily. 

Fare you well. Greet your dear wife, and enjoy the 
last fine days of autumn with your friends, whilst I am 
wandering in the high mountains. My correspondence 
will now make a small pause, until I am again returned 


Brief account oj my journey from Tuehingen to Staefa. 

On the 16th Sept., I set out from Tuebingen through 
Hechingen, Balingen, and Welledingen, to Tuttingen. 
It is a long day's journey. I made it from four o'clock in 
the morning to half-past eight in the evening. At first 
there is an agreeable country to the eye, but at last, when 
you get higher into the Neckar region, the land grows 
balder and less fertile ; it was not till dark that I reached 
the valley or dell, which leads down to the Danube ; the 
fday was gloomy but agreeable for travelling. 

The 17th, from Tuttingen to Schaffhausen. With the 
finest weather almost the whole way, the most interesting- 
region. At seven o'clock I left Tuebingen in a thick fog, 
but on the height we found soon a clear sky, and the fog 
lay horizontally in the whole valley of the Danube. Whilst 
on the height which separates the regions of the Rhine 
and Danube, you have a noble prospect, as well backwards 
as sideways, as you overlook the valley of the Danube to 




Doneschingen and further. But forwards the view is par- 
ticularly grand ; you see the Lake of Constance and the 
Grison mountains in the distance, nearer, Hohentwiel and 
some other characteristic basalt rocks. You drive through 
wooded hills and valleys to Engen, whence, southwards, a 
beautiful fertile plain opens : then you pass by Hohentwiel 
and the other mountains which you first saw in the dis- 
tance, and arrive at last into well-tilled and cleanly Switz- 
erland. About Schaff hausen the whole country looks like 
a garden. I arrived there in the evening, in a fine sun- 

The 18th I devoted entirely to the falls of the Rhine, 
drove early to Laufen, and from thence descended, in order 
at once to enjoy the vast astonishment. I contemplated 
the powerful scene, while the summits of the mountains 
and hills were covered with the fog, with which mingled 
the spray and mist of the fall. The sun came forth and 
glorified the spectacle, showed a part of the rainbow, and 
let me see the whole phenomenon of nature in its full 
brilliancy. I crossed over to the small castle Woerth, and 
now beheld the whole picture in front and from afar ; then 
I returned and drove from Laufen to the town. In the 
evening I drove out again on the right shore, and once 
more enjoyed with the setting sun this magnificent scene. 

On the 19th, the weather beautiful, I drove to Zürich 
through Eglisau, having always before me the great chain 
of the Swiss mountains, through an agreeable, variegated, 
and carefully cultivated country. 

The 20th, I spent a very cheerful forenoon in the pro- 
menades of Ziirich ; in the afternoon the weather changed. 
Professor Meyer came, and, as it rained and stormed, we 
remained the night at Zürich. 



On the 21st, with pleasant weather, we went up the lake 
in a boat, were kindly entertained at dinner by Mr. Escher, 
at his estate near Herrliberg on the lake, and arrived in 
the evening at Staefa. 

The 22d, a gloomy day, we passed in examining the 
works of art prepared and acquired by Mr. Meyer, at the 
same time communicating to one another our observations 
and experience. In the evening we took a long walk up- 
ward in the place, which gives a captivating and ideal 
conception of the most beautiful and highest culture. The 
buildings stand far apart ; vineyards, fields, gardens, or- 
chards fill the space between them, and in this way the 
place extends two or three miles along the lake, and one 
mile eastward to the hill, whose whole side tillage has 
already conquered. Now we are preparing for a short 
journey, which we think of making to Einsiedel, Schwytz, 
and the regions around the lake of the four Cantons. 


I HAD almost forgotten to tell you that the verse,* " It 
bubbles, it hisses, and rushes and roars," &;c., is perfectly 
justified at the falls of SchafFhausen ; it was to me re- 
markable how it embraces the chief moments of the pro- 
digious scene. I endeavored on the spot to take in the 
phenomenon in its parts and as a whole, as it presents 
itself, and I separately noted the observations which one 
makes while beholding it, as well as the ideas it gives rise 
to. You will one day see how these few poetic lines run, 
as it were, like a thread, through this labyrinth. 

I have just now received through Cotta the sheets J. K. 

* In Schiller's poem, The Diver. 



of the Almanac, and hope, on my return from the moun- 
tains and lakes, to find more letters from you. Fare you 
right well. Meyer will himself write a few words. I 
have the greatest joy in his being in such good spirits and 
health ; may I but hear the same from you. 

I have discovered grand subjects for Idyls and Elegies, 
and by whatever names the other kindred sorts of poetry 
are called, and I have made some already, as, indeed, 
generally, I have never taken up strange objects with such 
ease, and, at the same time, produced something. Fare 
you well, and let us ever go on thus theoretically and 


Jena, 2d October, 1797. 
« # # # # 

Now that I have the Almanac behind me, I can again 
turn to the Wallenstein. When I review the scenes that 
are finished, I am on the whole satisfied with myself, only 
I think I perceive in them some dryness, which however 
I can perfectly explain to myself, and also hope to re- 
move. It arose from a certain fear of falling into my for- 
mer rhetorical manner, and from a too anxious endeavor 
to keep very near to the subject. Now the subject is in 
itself somewhat dry, and requires more than any other a 
practical liberality ; it is here therefore more necessary 
than elsewhere to await a very pure poetic mood, if both 
by-ways, the prosaic and the rhetorical, are to be avoided 
with equal care. 

I see indeed still before me a prodigious labor, but this 
much I know, it will not be labor wasted ; for the whole is 
poetically organized, and, I can safely say, the material is 
converted into a pure tragic fable. The moment of the 



action is so pregnant, that all that belongs to its complete- 
ness, naturally proceeds out of it — nay, in a certain sense, 
necessarily lies in it. Nothing in it is left to chance ; it 
is opened on all sides. At the same time I succeeded in 
giving to the action, from the beginning, such a proclivity 
and tendency, that with an unceasing and accelerated mo- 
tion it hastens to its end. As the chief character is a re- 
tarding one, the events are all made to go in a circle, and 
this will, I think, very much heighten the tragic impres- 

I have lately occupied myself in looking for a subject 
for tragedy, which should be like that of the CEdipus Rex, 
and afford to the poet the same advantages. Those ad- 
vantages are immeasurable, although I only mention one, 
namely, that the compound action, which is entirely hos- 
tile to the tragic form, may be taken as the foundation, for 
this reason, that here this action has already taken place, 
and consequently falls without the tragedy. To this is 
added, that a deed done, is naturally, as being irrevocable, 
much more terrible ; and the dread that something may 
have happened, affects the mind quite differently from the 
dread that something may happen. 

The CEdipus is, as it were, only a tragic analysis. All 
is already there, and it is only unfolded : that can take place 
in the smallest action and in a very small space of time, 
however complicated and dependent on circumstances the 
events might be. How favorable is not this to the poet ! 

But I fear the CEdipus is its own genus, and that there 
is no second species of it ; least of all would it be pos- 
sible to find a counterpart to it in less fabulous times. The 
Oracle takes a share in the tragedy, and this it were 
utterly impossible to replace with anything else ; and 



should one attempt to retain the substance of the fable, 
with changed persons and times, what is now terrible 
would become laughable. 

I have not for a long while heard from you, and look 
with impatience for your next letter. Perhaps from it I 
shall learn something more definite about your journey 
and your future abode. From the Humboldts I have in 
the meantime heard nothing further ; but I think it not 
improbable that they will yet turn their steps towards 

How gets on your development of antique works of 
sculpture, of which the Laokoon is the beginning ? I 
have read this again recently with the highest satisfaction, 
and cannot sufficiently say, to how many important fruitful 
ideas it leads, touching the organization of aesthetic works. 
Herrmann and Dorothea are making a noise in a quiet 
way ; Körner too writes me that he has read the whole, 
and thinks that it belongs in one class with the best that 
you have written. 

Farewell, dear friend ! My wife greets you cordially. 
Many greetings to Meyer. The handsome copies of the 
Almanac are not yet ready. In the meanwhile I send you 
a common one. 


Jena, 6th October, 1797. 

Heartily welcome to me was your and Meyer's letter, 
which I received a few hours since. I hasten to answer 
it, if only with a few lines, in order to send you a friendly 
greeting before your return out of the mountains. We 
have longed quite impatiently for accounts of you, and 
doubly joyful therefore to me is your letter to-day, which 



gives me hopes of your early return. I really looked for- 
ward with a secret dread to the approaching winter, which 
now promises to be so cheerful to me. My health is again 
pretty good, but my little Ernest suffers severely from 
teething, and gives us much anxiety. With the departure 
of the good weather we shall move into our old abode in 
the town, and it may possibly suit us very well to live for 
a time in Weimar. Everything depends upon this, that I 
once get well settled upon Wallenstein ; then no change of 
life will hurt me, which otherwise would so easily disturb 
me, who am very much a slave of habit. 

I am not a little pleased, that according to your obser- 
vation my description of the whirlpool agrees with the 
phenomenon. I have had no other opportunity of studying 
this natural scene than at a mill, but as I closely studied 
Homer's description of the Charybdis, this perhaps held 
me to nature. Perhaps your journey will take you by a 
forge also, and you can tell me whether I have correctly 
represented this smaller phenomenon. 

I send to-day the first cargo of the Almanac to Leipsig, 
and am not a little curious as to its sale. It may be true 
that very few readers will thank us for abstaining from 
satiric things ; for even those who were themselves hit, 
enjoyed the burning of their neighbor's house. 

I must close, for the hour of the post is come. Note 
in your next letter whether I can continue to send my let- 
ters by Tuebingen, through Cotta. We heartily greet you 
and Meyer, whom T thank for his dear letter, as also my 
wife. Farewell. 





Stakfa, 14th October, 1797. 

On a very rainy morning I remain lying in bed, my dear 
friend, to converse with you and to give you report of our 
condition, in order that, as heretofore, you may accompany 
us with your spirit, and delight us from time to time with 
your letters. 

Scarcely had I found myself with our good Meyer in 
Zurich, scarcely had we arrived here together, scarcely 
had I enjoyed the works he brought with him, the pleas- 
ant country and its cultivation, when the near mountains 
gave me a certain disquiet, and the fine weather encourag- 
ed the wish to approach them, nay, to ascend them. 
The instinct which impelled me to this was very mixed 
and vague ; I remembered the effect which these objects 
had made upon me twenty years before, the impression 
had upon the whole remained, the parts were effaced, and 
I felt a strange desire to repeat and rectify my former 
experience. I had become another man, and therefore ob- 
jects could not but appear other to me. Meyer's good health 
and the conviction that light adventures in common, as 
they more quickly bind new acquaintances, so would they 
likewise be favorable to old ones, when these are to be 
revived after some interval, decided us fully, and we set 
out with the best weather, which for eleven days accom- 
panied us most propitiously. In the enclosed I at least 
indicate the route we took ; a full, although aphoristic diary 
I will in the sequel communicate to you. In the mean- 
while, your dear wife, who knows a part of this region, 
will be able to supply something here and there out of her 

On our return I found your two dear letters with the 



enclosures, which immediately connected themselves to 
the conversation which, on the road, we had kept up Very 
zealously, inasmuch as the topic of the subjects to be 
represented, and the treatment of them by the different 
Arts, was often discussed by us in quiet hours. Perhaps 
a short treatise will show you soon that we are fully of 
your mind, but most of all shall I rejoice when you hear 
and read Meyer's descriptions and opinions of so many 
works of Art. One learns on this occasion that a com- 
plete experience must embrace in itself the theory. We 
shall be so much the more certain of meeting in one cen- 
tre, as we go at the matter from so many sides. 

To speak to you of my own state, I can say, that so far 
I have every reason to be satisfied with my journey. 
Through the ease with which I seize hold of objects, I have 
become rich without being loaded ; the material does not 
incommode me, because I know how to methodize it, or to 
work it up, and I feel more freedom than ever to select 
manifold forms to represent for myself or others what is 
worked up. From the barren summit of the Gotthardt to 
the admirable works of Art which Meyer has brought with 
him, a labyrinthic footpath leads us through an entangled 
series of interesting objects which this strange country 
contains. To bring before the mind through direct con- 
templation the natural-historical, geographical, economical 
and political conditions, and then by means of an. old 
Chronicle to get nearer to past times, also to avail oneself 
of many a treatise of the industrious Swiss, all this gives, 
particularly with the circumscribed nature of Swiss exist- 
ence, a very agreeable occupation, and as well the gene- 
ral view of the whole as the insight into particulars is 
especially facilitated thereby, that Meyer is here at home, 




has, with his accurate and keen perception, been so long 
acquainted with the relations of everything, and preserves 
them in a faithful memory. Thus have we in a short time 
brought together more than I could imagine, and it is only 
a pity that we are too near the winter by a month ; one 
more tour of four weeks could not fail to make us widely 
acquainted with this strange land. 

But now what will you say when I inform you, that 
among all this prosaic material, a poetic one, too, has pre- 
sented itself, which inspires me with great confidence ? I 
am almost convinced that the fable of Tell will admit of 
being treated epically, and if I succeed in my design, the 
singular case would occur that the tale would first attain 
to its complete truth through poetry, instead of which in 
other cases one must turn history into fable in order to pro- 
duce something. But of that more hereafter. The limit- 
ed highly significant locale, in which the events play, I have 
again very accurately impressed on my mind ; and I have 
also observed, as well as was possible in the short time, 
the characters, manners, and customs of the people in 
these regions, and it depends now upon good luck whether 
anything comes out of this undertaking. 

But now a question arises, which for us is from time to 
time doubtful ; whither we shall betake ourselves in 
order to work up most conveniently and speedily as well 
Meyer's collections as my own old and new stock ? Un- 
happily here in this place the lodgings are not calculated 
for Winter, otherwise I would not deny that I should have 
been quite inclined to remain here, as the complete soli- 
tude would have furthered our object not a little. To this 
is added, that it would have been the most suitable place 
to await whether Italy or France will again invite or 



admit the traveller next Spring. In Zurich itself I cannot 
imagine a tolerable existence, and so we shall now slowly 
return to Frankfort. 

I have, however, hit up on an idea, for carrying the 
which into execution only a little habit is wanted ; it 
would, namely, not be difficult to arrange in such a way 
that one could work with self-possession and satisfaction 
while on the journey. For if at certain times travelling 
distracts, at others, on the contrary, it throws us the more 
quickly back on ourselves ; the want of outward relations 
and connexions, nay, the tedium, is favorable to him who 
has various things to work up. Travel is like a game ; 
there is always gain or loss, and mostly from the unex- 
pected side ; you receive more or less than you hope for ; 
you can, with impunity, loiter along for a while, then you 
are again obliged to gather yourself up a moment. For 
natures like mine, that like to establish themselves firmly 
and hold fast to things, a journey is invaluable ; it animates, 
instructs and cultivates. 

I am also no w convinced that one could very well go to 
Italy : for, after an earthquake, a fire, or a flood, everything 
in the world settles down as quickly as possible into its old 
condition, and I should undertake the journey without per- 
sonal apprehension, if other considerations did not with- 
hold me. Perhaps, therefore, we shall see each other 
very soon again, and the most agreeable hope that attracts 
me towards home is that of sharing with you the booty I 
have taken, and to attain to an ever closer union theoreti- 
cally and practically. We will see what more we can 
still pick up on the way. Thus Basle, on account of its 
proximity to France, has a particular charm for me ; fine 
works of Art are also to be found there. 



The conclusion of the Almanac I hope still to receive 
in Zurich ; Cotta is very regular in his transmissions. 

The Ibycus I find very well done, and the conclusion 
cannot be improved. I wish now much to overlook the 
whole. As my Pretty Maid of the Mill has found a good 
reception,! send another song that we owe to her charms. 
It will be very well if the next Almanac is rich in songs, 
and the Bell must only sound so much the better for the 
metal having been kept longer in flux and purified of all 



Staefa, 17th October, 1797. 

I HAVE not been able to find either time or mood to make 
an extract out of my larger diary, in order to advise you 
more particularly of our mountain tour ; I will therefore 
briefly just say here, that we went from Richterswiel to 
Einsiedel, and thence to Schwytz and Brunnen : from 
thence we went by the lake to Fluellen, thence to Altorf, 
and ascended the Gotthardt, and returned. In Fluellen we 
took boat again and landed at Beckenrieth, in the Canton 
of Unterwaiden, went on foot to Stanz and Stanz-Stade, 
whence we crossed the lake to Küsnacht, went to Immi- 
see, took boat to Zug, walked to Horgen, and in a boat 
came again over here to Staefa. 

On this short journey we saw the greatest variety of 
objects and met with the most different climates, of which 
hereafter more. 

On the famous matter of the subjects of the plastic arts, 
a small treatise is sketched and in some measure executed ; 
you will find in it the passages of your letter as notes. 



We are now on the motives, as the second in importance 
after the subject is given : for only through motives does 
the inner organization take place ; then we shall pass to 
the composition, and thus proceed. We shall confine our- 
selves to plastic art, and are curious how it will coincide 
with the poetry which we herewith again commend to 

Fare you right well — greet those dearest to you. If 
you wish to say a word in answer to this letter, only send 
it to Cotta. Since yesterday the accounts from the Rhine 
sound very warlike, and in the end we shall have to sneak 
home by a back way through Swabia and Franconia. 
Once more the best farewell. 

Meyer sends best greetings. Just at this moment the 
Aldohrandinian Marriage has arrived, which we have been 
long expecting from Rome, through Trieste, Villach and 
Constance. All our treasures are now together, and we 
can now enter upon our journey, quieted and gladdened on 
this point likewise. 


Jena, 20ih October, 1797. 

A FEW days since Böttejer sent us two handsome copies 
of your Herrmann, with which we were much pleased. 
So then it is now fairly in the world, and we shall hear 
how the voice of an Homeric rhapsodist will sound in this 
modern politico-rhetorical world. I have read the poem 
again with the old unweakened impression and with new 
emotion ; it is absolutely perfect in its kind, it is powerful 
in pathos, and yet graceful in the highest degree ; in short, 
it is beautiful, say what one will. 



Meister also I have read again quite lately, and it was nev- 
er so strikingly apparent to me how much there is in the out- 
ward form. The form of Meister — as generally the form 
of every novel — is absolutely not poetical ; it is entirely 
confined to the region of the understanding, is subjected 
to all the understanding's requisitions, and shares also all 
its limits. But because it is a thoroughly poetic genius, 
who avails himself of this form, and in this form ex- 
pressed poetic conditions, there arises a singular fluctuating 
between a prosaic and a poetic mood, for which I have no 
appropriate name. I might say there is wanting to Meis- 
ter (that is, to the novel) a certain poetic boldness, be- 
cause, as novel, it always aims to satisfy the understand- 
ing ; and at the same time there is wanting a sobriety 
(which itself gives you cause to expect), because it has 
flowed out of a poetic spirit. Spell this together as you 
can ; I give you merely my feeling. 

As you stand on such a point, that you must require of 
yourself the highest, and the objective and subjective 
must flow wholly into one, it is therefore very necessary to 
take care that that which your genius can put into one 
work, shall always seize the purest form, and that nothing 
be lost in an impure medium. Who does not feel in Meis- 
ter what it is that makes Herrmann so enchanting ! The 
former w^ants nothing of your genius ; it seizes hold of 
the heart with all the powers of poetry, and gives an ever 
self-renewing enjoyment ; and yet Herrmann leads me (and 
that solely through its pure poetic form) into a divine poetic 
world, while Meister does not entirely let me out of a real 

As I am criticising, I will make one more remark, 
which forced itself upon me at this perusal. There is 



obviously too much of tragedy in Meister ; I mean the 
bodeful, the incomprehensible, the subjectively marvellous, 
which is indeed compatible with poetic depth and obscur- 
ity, but not with the clearness that should reign in the 
novel and does also reign in this one so pre-eminently. It 
incommodes one to come upon this want of solidity, where 
you think you feel firm ground everywhere under you, and 
to come upon such riddles, while everything else is so 
beautifully unravelled for the contentment of the under- 
standing. In short, to me it seems that you have here 
availed yourself of a means to which the spirit of the work 
did not entitle you. 

For the rest 1 cannot sufficiently say to you how much 
at this new reading Meister has enriched, animated, de- 
lighted me ; for me there flows therein a spring at which 
I can draw nourishment for every faculty of the soul, and 
particularly for that one which is the combined action 
of all. 



Zurich, 25th October, 179 7. 

Before I leave Zlirich, only a few words ! for I am 
very much pre-occupied, and shall, too, continue so for 
awhile, for we think of going to Basle, thence to SchafT- 
hausen, Tuebingen, and so further ; probably at the latter 
place, I shall again find something from you. No Alma- 
nac of the Muses, no Herrmann have I yet seen; all that, 
and more besides, I suppose I shall meet with in Ger- 

Were the season not so far advanced, I should like to 
look about for a month longer in Switzerland, in order to 



inform myself of the political and social relations generally . 
It is strange how old constitutions, that are merely founded 
on being and conserving, look in times when everything is 
striving towards growth and change. I will say nothing 
further to-day than a hearty farewell. From Tuebingen 
you will hear further from me. 



Jena, 30lh October, 1797. 

Thank God that I once more have news of you I These 
three weeks that you were travelling about in the moun- 
tains, cut off from us, got to be long to me. So much the 
more was T gladdened by your dear letter, and all that it 
contained. The idea of the William Tell is very happy, 
and rightly considered you could, after the Meister and the 
Herrmann, only treat a locally characteristic subject, such 
as this, with the full originality of your genius, and with 
freshness of mood. The interest which springs out of a 
strictly circumscribed characteristic locality, and a certain 
historical compactness, is perhaps the only one that you 
have not taken away from yourself by these two preceding 
works. These two works are, moreover, as regards the 
subject, aesthetically free, and however concentrated the 
locale looks and is in both, it is nevertheless a pure poetic 
ground, and represents a whole world. With Tell the 
case will be quite different ; out of the significant narrow 
bounds of the given subject will proceed the whole of the 
life and spirit. Here the poet will be able, by his power, 
to limit the reader, and in that limitation intensely to affect 
and occupy him. At the same time, out of this fine mate- 
rial will open itself a view into a certain wide expanse of 
the human race, as between high mountains a vista opens 
into the free distance. 



How much I desire on account of this poem to be again 
with you ! You would, perhaps, now the more easily ac- 
custom yourself to speaking with me of it, as the unity and 
purity of your Herrmann was not in the least disturbed by 
your conversations about it with me while you were at 
work. And I acknowledge that I know nothing in the 
world from which I have learnt more than from those com- 
munications, which introduced me right into the centre 
of art. 

The song of the Millstream is charming, and greatly 
delighted us. It is in an uncommonly pleasing dress,which 
allows the imagination a captivating play ; the measure, 
too, is very happily chosen. The distichs, likewise, are 
very pleasing. 

Humboldt has written at last, and that from Munich. 
He is now on his way to Basle, where he will determine 
whether the journey to Paris shall be given up or not. 
You he will therefore hardly meet, unless you spend the 
winter in Zürich, whither he will betake himself if he does 
not go to Paris. A large salt-mine near Berchholdsgaden, 
into which he went, he describes very prettily. The Ba- 
varian nation he seems to like very much, and a minister 
of war there, Rumford, he praises highly, on account of 
his beautiful and philanthropical institutions. 

We are now again in the town, where we are all welL 
I am working zealously at the Wallenstein, but get on 
slowly notwithstanding, because the bulky and unmanage- 
able material gives me so very much to do. 

The Almanac you have now received, as well as my 
letters of the 2d, 6th, and 20th October, as I hope. 

Fare you right well, with Meyer, whom we heartily 
greet. May our good genius soon bring you back to us. 



My wife will herself write you a few lines. I recently 
read the Herrmann to a company of friends in one evening 
from beginning to end ; it again affected us indescribably, 
and to me it brought back again so vividly the evenings 
when you read it to us, that I was doubly moved. Once 
more, farewell ! 



TuEBiNGEN, 30th October, 1797. 

We gave up the tour to Basle, and have come directly 
to Tuebingen. The season, weather and road, are no 
longer inviting, and as we do not wish to remain abroad, 
we can now from this turn our steps towards home ; what 
way we shall take, is still undecided. 

The Almanac we first received here, and enjoyed espe- 
cially the Forge. You have scarcely done anything with 
such happy humor, and the retarding Mass is of the best 
effect. The Secret, also, is very praiseworthy. 

I am glad that Herrmann is in your hands, and that he 
holds his own. What you say of Meister, I understand 
perfectly well ; it is all true, and even more. It was pre- 
cisely its incompleteness that gave me the most trouble. A 
pure form helps and supports, while an impure one every- 
where hinders and drags. He may, however, be what he 
is ; it will not easily happen to me again to make a mis- 
take in the subject and the form, and we wait to see what 
our Genius will vouchsafe to us in the autumn of life. 

Much joy to Wallenstein ! I hope that when we 
come a part will be already visible. Meyer sends best 
greetings. May we find you and yours in excellent health. 
From the half of our way, from Frankfort or Nuremberg, 
you will hear once more from us. 



Humboldt has written from Munich, and goes to Basle. 
Once more farewell, with the hope of soon meeting again. 



To our especial joy we have found Knebel here, and 
we shall therefore tarry somewhat longer than we intend- 
ed. The town offers much that is interesting, old works 
of art, mechanic labors ; there are likewise many observa- 
tions to be made on political relations. I say to you, 
therefore, only a word of greeting, and send a poem. It 
is the fourth in honor of the handsome maid of the mills. 
The third is not yet ready ; it will have the title. Treason, 
and will relate the history, how the young man was badly 
received in the mill. Soon I shall have the pleasure to 
embrace you again, and to ask your thoughts on a hundred 

Nuremberg, 10th November, 1797. 



Jena, 22d November, 1797. 

Once more I wish you joy on your happy arrival. 
How agreeable it is to me to be able again to communi- 
cate with you so easily and quickly ! What you have 
brought with you, of things and ideas, promises me a 
Winter rich in entertainment and instruction, and doubly 
glad am I that I can pass a part of it near you. For the 
theatre we must try to do something, although no one but 
ourselves were to learn somewhat from the trial. Have 
you got a sight of Einsiedel's work thereupon? Here is 
one man more, at least, who strives to utter something on 
this matter, and, in a certain circle, will nourish an inte- 
rest in it. 



Here are the letters of Garve, which will display Ger- 
man nature to you in a different, though kindred, way from 
the letter of Raethselman. 

The money, together with the Almanacs, the carrier- 
girl will take with her the day after to-morrow. Had I 
known that you wished to redeem the gold again, I would 
certainly not have taken it. 

Farewell for to-day. More on Friday. Greetings to 



The four Carolins* T send back, with thanks, and beg 
to have instead my golden Gail. I have, likewise, yet to 
thank for the amount of the Almanac, so soon made over 
through Gotta. The proverb, what is won through the 
flute is spent through the drum, I have verified in the bet- 
ter sense, inasmuch as I have for this amount bought a 
work of Art, that will give you pleasure too, and will 
elevate and animate our mutual enjoyments and acquire- 
ments. Meyer has already opened to you something of 
our latest speculations, and rejoices much in your partici- 
pation and cooperation. So soon as I shall have rested a 
little, I will draw up our theses, in order then to confer 
thereupon, and to construct a successful whole. I am 
convinced that we shall make fine progress this Winter. 

I sat yesterday, for the first time, in your box, and wish 
soon to conduct you into it again. As I looked at the 
representation altogether as a stranger, I was astonished 
to see how far our people really are ! On a certain level 
road of nature and prose, they do their business well be- 

* A gold coin. 



yond measure ; but, alas ! the moment only a tincture 
merely of poetry shows itself, as, however, always happens 
where there is even the gentlest movement of the pathetic, 
they are instantly either null or false. It seemed extraor- 
dinary to me that the author of the piece, Ziegler, appears 
to be just in this condition ; he discovers right clever 
comic motives, and because these produce their effect ex- 
temporaneously, he handles them mostly very well ; but 
all tender, sentimental and pathetic situations, for which 
preparation must be made, and which are to have a result, 
he knows not how to treat, even when he has got hold of 
them ; they trip up one another, and produce no effect, 
although they are not badly planned. I promise myself 
from your presence much good for the Theatre and for 
yourself. I hope by the time of your arrival to be com- 
pletely resettled. 

For the Horen already sent, I give my best thanks, and 
now beg also for some copies of the Almanac. The en- 
closed letter is another genuine evidence of contracted 

Fare you well. We are by degrees unpacking our 
treasures, and arrangements are already made for showing 
them. By the time you come, everything will be in the 
finest order. 

Weimar, 22d November, 1797. 



Jena, 24th November, 1797. 

I HAVE never yet been so palpably convinced, as in my 
present occupation, how closely in Poetry substance and 
form are connected together. Since I have begun to 
transform my prosaic language into a poetic rhythmical one, 



I find myself under a totally different jurisdiction than 
before ; even many motives, which in the prosaic execu- 
tion seemed to be perfectly in place, I can now no longer 
use : they were merely good for the common domestic 
understanding, whose organ prose seems to be ; but verse 
absolutely requires references to the imagination, and thus 
I was obliged to become more poetical in many of my 
motives. Everything that ought to be elevated above the 
common, should really be conceived, at least in the begin- 
ning, in verse, for the flat shows itself nowhere so con- 
spicuously as when it is uttered in metrical language. 

In my present labors an observation has presented itself 
to me, which you, perhaps, also, have already made. It 
seems that a part of the poetic interest lies in the antago- 
nism between the matter itself and the mode of setting it 
forth. Is the matter very poetically significant, then a 
somewhat meagre dress and a simplicity of diction 
amounting to commonness will very well become it ; 
whereas, on the contrary, an unpoetic common matter, 
such as it is often necessary to have in a large whole, 
acquires poetic dignity through an animated and rich' dic- 
tion. Where the matter is of this unpoetic character, 
then it is, I think, that the ornaments required by Aristotle 
must come in, for in a poetic work there should be nothing 

In a dramatic production rhythm has this great and im- 
portant effect, that, by treating all characters and all situa- 
tions according to one law, and exhibiting them, in spite 
of their inward differences, in one form, it thereby forces 
the poet and his reader to require from all, however char- 
acteristically different, something universal and purely 
human. Everything has to unite in the generic idea of 



the poetical, and rhythm is as well the representative as 
the instrument of this law, by which everything is embrac- 
ed. In this way rhythm forms the atmosphere for poetic 
creation, the gross remains behind, only the spiritual can 
be carried by this thin element. 

You here receive eight Almanacs. Properly, six on 
vellum were intended for you, but through some confusion 
it happened that my supply of handsome copies was all 
exhausted before I knew it. I send, therefore, two copies 
more, and this you, perhaps, prefer. The Duchess 
has received one from me, as also Privy-Counsellor Voigt, 
Herder, Boettiger. 

Zelter wishes to know how you are satisfied with his 
Melodies to the Bajadere and the Song of Mignon. He 
writes that an Almanac won for him a bet of six bottles of 
champagne, for he maintained against some one, that it 
would certainly contain no Xenia. 

Farewell, and provide that I soon receive something 
from your aesthetic treasures to. read. Many greetings to 



Wkimar, 24th November, 1797. 

I SEND back the letters of Garve with thanks, and wish 
that the poor sick old man had abused us still more sharp- 
ly, if thereby he could become healthy and happy for the 
rest of his life. On reading these pages, what a litany of 
most lamentable considerations present themselves, the 
recital of which I spare you, because they will all have 
occurred to yourself. In this good and valiant man, you 
cannot discover a trace of aesthetic feeling. From one 



side his judgments are grossly material, and from the other, 
he handles the matter like a master of ceremonies, in 
order to be very particular in assigning to subordinate 
talents their little place. It is only well that you have 
again conciliated him with three words. 

How natural such judges of morals find it, that an author 
should, during his whole life, let his best endeavors be 
mistaken, himself retarded, teased, vexed, and worried, 
because forsooth it is so established ! And therewith he 
ought to be patient, mindful of his high worth, and stand 
there with his hands crossed over each other, like an ecce 

homo, merely in order that Mr. , and his like, may also 

pass for poets in their way. 

But enough of such pitiful matters ! Let us push for- 
ward on our way, ever steadfastly and vigorously. 



25th November. 

For letter and package, which I have this moment 
received, I thank you cordially, and only say in haste and 
impromptu, that I am not only of your opinion, but even go 
much further. Whatever is poetical should be treated 
rhythmically. That is my conviction, and the belief, that 
by degrees a poetical prose might be introduced, only 
shows that the difference between prose and poetry is 
entirely lost sight of. It is no better than if some one 
should order to be made in his park a lake that could be 
drained, and the landscape-gardener endeavored to execute 
the order by forming a marsh. What is neither one thing 
nor the other, is for amateurs and dabblers, just as marshes 
are for amphibious animals. In the meanwhile the evil 



has become so great in Germany, that no one any longer 
sees it ; nay, like that scrofulous people that is told of, 
they rather look upon a healthily made neck as a punish- 
ment from God. All dramatic works (and perhaps come- 
dy and farce generally) should be rhythmical, and we 
should then sooner see who could do something. For the 
present, however, nothing is left to the dramatic poet but to 
accommodate himself to public taste ; and in this sense, 
you could not be blamed if you chose to write your Wal- 
lenstein in prose ; do you however regard it as an self-de- 
pendent work, then it must necessarily become rhythmi- 

At all events, we are obliged to forget our age, if we 
wish to work according to our convictions : for, such a 
shallow vulgarity in principles as at present prevails has 
assuredly never yet been in the world, and what good the 
new philosophy will do, we have yet to wait for. 

Poetry is in strictness founded on the exhibition of the 
empiric pathological condition of man ; but who among 
our admirable judges and so-called poets at present 
acknowledges this ? Has a man like Garve, who, how- 
ever, pretends to have been thinking all his life, and passed 
for a kind of philosopher, even the feeblest glimmering of 
such an axiom ? Does he not, therefore, hold you to be 
a meritorious poet because you amused yourself with utter- 
ing the judgments of Reason with a poetic mouth ? the which 
is to be allowed, but not to be praised. How willingly 
would I permit these prosaic natures to start back with hor- 
ror from the so-called immoral subjects, if they had a feel- 
ing for the higher poetic moral, for example, in the Poly- 
crates and Ibycus, and were thereby delighted. 

Let us, particularly as Meyer has brought with him out 




of Italy a grim rigorism, grow ever severer in principles, 
and more sure and pleasing in execution. The latter can 
only happen by fixing our looks while at work only 
within the frame. 

Herewith my Elegy, with the wish for a friendly recep- 

To Zelter we remain debtors six bottles of champagne 
for the firm, good conviction he had of us. His Indian 
Legei\d I esteem highly. The thought is original and 
happy ; the song of Mignon I have not yet even heard. 
Composers play only their own things, and amateurs have 
likewise only particularly favored pieces. On my whole 
route I found no one who would have been disposed to 
master, by study, something foreign and new. 

I beg you to let me have some copies of the melodies to 
the Almanac ; they are wanting to all those sent to me. 

May you be very successful with your Wallenstein, in 
order that we may the sooner see you with us. 

A hearty farewell and greeting to your family. 



In the package sent I have found the song-melodies to 
the Almanac, for which I give you thanks ; but there is no 
letter, which though at the end and in the middle of the 
week comes to me always so wished for. But I also have 
little to communicate, inasmuch as for the last few days 
1 have lived only in the world, and have neither thought 
nor done anything that would have for us both a common 
interest. We are still busied in setting up the things of 
Art we brought with us, and I think all will be in tbe best 
condition before you come over here. 



I wish much to hear how your rhythmical Wallenstein 
thrives. For myself I am just now in such a state, as if 
1 had never made or should make a poem. It is best that 
the mood for poetry comes unexpected and uncalled. 

Fare you right well, and let me soon hear something of 
you, your condition and labors. 

Weimar, 28th November, 1797. 



». Jena, 28th November, 1797. 

With your Elegy you have again given us great plea- 
sure ; it belongs so truly to the pure poetic species, as 
through so simple a means, through a sportful use of the 
subject, it stirs up the deepest and points to the highest. 

May many such moods cheer you in these gloomy, op- 
pressive days, which to you also I know are so fatal ! I 
need all my elasticity, in order to make myself air and 
room against the down-weighing heavens. 

I read lately the Shakspearian pieces which treat of the 
War of the Two Roses, and am now, after finishing Richard 
III., filled with amazement. This last is one of the sub- 
limest tragedies that I know, and at this moment I could 
not say whether even any other one of Shakspeare can 
rank before it. The great destinies, woven in the preced- 
ing pieces, are ended in this in a truly great manner, and 
they connect themselves together according to the most 
sublime idea. That the subject of itself excludes entirely 
the tender, the melting, the tear-moving, assists this high 
effect ; everything therein is energetic and great — naught 
common disturbs the pure aesthetic emotion, and it is, as 
it were, the pure form of the dread tragic that one enjoys. 
A high Nemesis stalks through the piece, in all the figures ; 



one loses not this sensation from the beginning to the end. 
It is wonderful how the Poet was always able to win a 
poetic booty from the unwieldy material, and how skilfully 
he represents that which cannot be distinctly represented. 
I mean his art in employing symbols where the real thing 
cannot be displayed. No Shakspearian piece has reminded 
me so much of the Greek tragedy. 

It were verily worth while to prepare this series of eight 
pieces for the stage, with all the judgment that can now 
be exercised in such a matter. An epoch might be there- 
by introduced. We really must confer thereon. 

Fare you well with our friend Meyer. My Wallenstein 
gains daily more shape, and I am well satisfied with 



As you say so much good of my Elegy, I am the more 
sorry that I have not for a long while been in a similar 
mood. That poem was made on my entrance into Switz- 
erland, since which time my active productive I has been 
put under restraint in so many agreeable and disagreeable 
ways, that it has not yet been able to gather itself up : we 
must now therefore wait in all humility. 

I wish much that you might be allowed to work up the 
Shakspearian productions. When you shall have got your- 
self in practice by the writing of Wallenstein, such an 
undertaking would not be difficult for you. 

Farewell. The season exercises its rights on me, and 
as this time I can communicate to you nothing cheerful out 
of my own powers, I send you a '^ish ode, which will not 
fail of its effect. 

Weimar, 29th November, 1797. 




Jena, 1st December, 1797. 

Don't quarrel with me because the Comedy you asked 
for does not come with this to-day ; it was only late in the 
evening by candlelight that it occurred to me to look for it, 
and that I did for half an hour ineffectually. I will send 
it by the post on Sunday. 

It is getting to be quite a trouble to me how the Wallen- 
stein swells in bulk, particularly now that the Iambics, al- 
though they shorten the expression, entertain a poetic dis- 
position which drives one into diffuseness. You will judge 
whether I should and could be shorter. My first Act is so 
large that I could put the first three Acts of your Iphigenia 
into it without entirely filling it up ; it is true, the after Acts 
are much shorter. The exposition requires extensiveness, 
just as the advancing action leads to intensiveness. It 
seems as if a certain epic spirit had come over me, which 
may be accounted for by the power of your direct influ- 
ences ; yet I don't believe that it hurts the dramatic spirit, 
because it was perhaps the only means of giving a poetic 
nature to this prosaic subject. 

I begged Meyer lately to procure for me a drawing of 
you for the next Almanac. We want to do this early, so 
that the engraving may be made with good leisure. I 
should also like to have from him a Nemesis for my Wal- 
lenstein ; it is an interesting and significant illustration. 
Meyer will think of one that has a tragic character ; I 
wish to have it as vignette on the title-page itself. 

Can I not soon hope for something for the Horen from 
you ? In these gloomy December days, one can do 
nothing better than make money to spend in fine weather. 
Have you no inclination to finish now the chorus ? or is 



there, perhaps, to be found some other material that could 
be more quickly got ready ? I am very poor, and yet time 
will not stand still. 

Fare you well, and enjoy with Meyer your treasures of 
Art, about which I am very curious, and which will give 
us occasion for specific judgments in Art, which I so 
much need. My wife's best greetings. 



For us, practically as well as theoretically, it will be of 
the greatest importance what issue your Wallenstein shall 
have. Will not the subject yet force you in the end to 
get up a cycle of pieces ? That rhythm allures you into 
breadth is perfectly natural, for every poetic mood is flexi- 
ble and accommodating. I am very desirous to hear some- 
thing of it. 

I will speak with Meyer about the engravings for the 
Almanac and Wallenstein. I haven't much confidence in 
a portrait ; it is difiicult to produce anything that shall be 
only tolerable, and more especially of this small size, and 
engravers treat whatever belongs to a book so lightly and 
carelessly. Were it not better to abide by the general and 
the symbolical ? 

I myself, since my return, have scarcely been able to 
attain to a mood for even dictating a tolerable letter. The 
mass of objects that I have taken up is very great, and the 
interest in writing out and working up has been very much 
weakened by intercourse with Meyer. So soon as I have 
once talked a thing thoroughly over, it is for me the same 
as finished for a long time. 

I must only once more put in order the old and new 



that lies in my intellect and heart ; I would very willingly 
sencP you something for the Horen ; it will soon appear 
what I can furnish. 

Fare you right well, and gladden us soon with your 
arrival, and greet heartily your dear wife. 

Weimar, 2(1 December, 1797. 



Jena, 5th December, 1797. 

I CAN only write you a greeting this gloomy day. 
The weather weighs upon me exceedingly, and stirs up 
all my pains, so that even work doesn't gladden me. 

After mature deliberation, I have determined that I shall 
do better to pass the two worst Winter months here. 
January and February are dangerous months for me, be- 
cause in them I have already been attacked twice with 
inflammation of the lungs. The slightest cold can, during 
this period, bring on this malady, which I should not now, 
as formerly, be able to withstand. With such a tendency 
a change of habits is not to be ventured on, and in Weimar 
I should not dare to think of going out in Winter. But as 
the bespoken lodgings are very small, and could scarcely 
hold the children, I should have but a sorry existence. 
Moreover, the next two months are decisive for my labors, 
and therefore nothing must press upon me from without. 

Some months later I will seek out lodgings near you ; 
the weather will then be milder, I shall be able to go across 
the street, and everything will be easier to me. 

Perhaps I will come over some fine December day on a 
visit, and after New Year, we shall be able, I hope, to 
have you and Meyer here. 



From Zumsteg in Stuttgart I received lately a letter, 
which really gave me pleasure. He writes which of'our 
poems in the Almanac pleases him most, and — what for a 
long time we have not been accustomed to hear — ^he has 
really discovered what is best. He also writes that in his 
region the Almanac makes a universal sensation. 

Farewell. I am to-day not in a condition to say any- 



If you are convinced that a Winter residence in Jena 
is more advantageous for your health and your labors, I 
shall be glad of it, as I shall find myself obliged to go over 
there after New Year, in order, in some measure, to gather 
myself up, and how strange Jena would seem to me if I 
found you not there. I now rejoice at your remaining, as, 
in case I had been obliged to leave you here, I should have 
been only divided against myself. 

By all means stick to your Wallenstein ; I shall soon go 
at my Faust, partly to be rid of this mongrel, partly to pre- 
pare myself for a higher and purer mood, perhaps for Tell. 
At the same time I shall occasionally think of the next 
Almanac ; perhaps, too, something may be dropt for the 

Let us continue resolutely in the path we have entered 
on. We cannot fail to achieve much yet, and Meyer's co- 
operation will greatly further us. We can also be certain 
of the sympathy of the public ; for although one always 
complains of it as a whole, it nevertheless contains many 
cultivated individuals, who know how to appreciate the 
honest and earnest endeavors of an author. Meanwhile, 



let the old laudator temporis acti grieve amidst these dregs 
of the eighteenth century" (see the November number of 
the German Mercury, page 194) ; as much clear wine as 
we need the Muse will not fail to pour out for us. To see 
Meyer's beautiful things, were well worth a December 
ride. May your health allow it. 

Weimar, 6th December, 1797. 



Jena, 8th December, 1797. 


I AM now perfectly reconciled to the necessity which 
detains me here for the coming months, as the journey to 
Weimar would not have been the way for me to be oftener 
with you, and so let us with thankfulness begin again next 
month our old life, which will not lose by Meyer's pre- 
sence. It is not at all bad that between your first and 
second epochs, you shove in Faust. You thereby swell 
the poetic stream, and excite in yourself an impatient de- 
sire for the new fresh production, which is of itself half 
the mood. Faust, when you shall have worked through 
him, will certainly not leave you as he found you ; he will 
exercise and sharpen new faculties in you, and thus you 
will come richer and more full of fire to your new work. 

I will keep at Wallenstein as much as I can, but the 
pathological interest of Nature in a poetic work of this 
kind is very weakening to me. Fortunately, my indispo- 
sition does not affect my mood ; but, owing to it, a cordial 
immersion in my work exhausts me the quicker, and puts 
me out of order. Commonly, therefore, I have to pay for 
one day of propitious mood with five or six days of op- 
pression and suffering. This keeps me back astonishing- 




ly, as you can well conceive. Still I do not give up the 
hope of seeing Wallenstein played next Summer in Wei- 
mar, and of being next Autumn deeply merged in my 
Knights of Malta. 

These occupy me now occasionally, when I am resting 
from woik. There is something very attractive for me in 
such subjects, which, by their nature, isolate themselves 
and make a world for themselves. I have made good 
use of this circumstance in Wallenstein ; and in the 
Knights of Malta it will favor me still more. Not only 
that this Order is really an individual altogether sui gene- 
ris^ but in the moment of dramatic action it is so still more . 
All communication with the rest of the world is cut off by 
the blockade ; it is concentrated solely upon itself, upon 
the care of its existence, and only the qualities that make 
it the Order which it is, can at this moment effect its pre- 

This piece will have to be treated as simply as Wallen- 
stein is complicated, and I rejoice beforehand that in the 
simple subject I shall find all that I want, and shall use all 
that I find significant. I can execute it entirely in the 
Grecian form, and according to the plan of Aristotle, with 
choruses, and without the division into Acts. Can you 
tell me where the division into Acts originated ? In Aris- 
totle, we found nothing of it ; and in many Grecian pieces 
it would not be at all applicable. 

Körner writes me that Gessler is again in Dresden. 
His Italian he has left, they say, in Switzerland, in order 
further to form her there. It is to be hoped that she will 
in the meantime run away with some one else. 

From Humboldt, I have heard nothing for six weeks, 
and from this I conclude that he has really gone to Paris : 



for, were he quietly settled in Switzerland, mere ennui 
would have made him write. 

Fare you well, and get through yet happily the re- 
mainder of this month. With me, all are just now well. 
My wife sends yoir best greetings. I shall have great 
pleasure in showing to our old friend Meyer something of 



The information that you will not come to us this Win- 
ter, has grieved our actors. It appears that they purposed 
to do themselves honor before you. I have consoled them 
with the hope that you woi:ld visit us in the Spring. Our 
Theatre stands in need of such a new stimulus, which I 
myself cannot give it. Between him who has to com- 
mand, and him who shall give to such an establishment 
aesthetic guidance, there is a very great difference. The 
latter must act upon the feelings, and must therefore show 
feeling ; the former must close up all his avenues of sen- 
sibility in order to keep tight together the political and 
economical form. Whether it is possible to combine free 
reciprocal influence and mechanical direction, I know not ; 
with me, at least, such a feat has not yet been successful. 

I can very well understand the state in which your work 
puts you. Without a lively pathological interest, neither 
could I ever succeed in working up a tragic situation, and 
I have therefore rather avoided than sought it. May it 
not have been one of the advantages of the ancients, that 
the highest pathos was with them only an aesthetic play, 
while with us hearty sincerity must cooperate in order to 
produce such a work ? I do not, indeed, sufficiently 



know myself, to judge whether I could write a genuine 
tragedy ; I am terrified at the mere thought of such an 
undertaking, and am almost convinced that through the 
mere attempt I could destroy myself. 

I have still a fortnight's work before me in order to get 
several things under way, to bring the new contracts for 
the theatre into order, and much else. But, after that, T 
will hasten to my day-solitudes in the Jena palace, and to 
our evening talks. 

Meyer, I shall not bring with me, for I have again re- 
newed the experience, that I can only work in an absolute 
loneliness, and that not merely conversation, but even the 
presence in the house of beloved and esteemed persons, 
draws ofT entirely my poetic springs. I should now be 
in a kind of despair, because every trace of a productive 
excitement in me has disappeared, if I were not certain 
of finding it again during the first eight days in Jena. 

I send herewith a volume of poems by a man, who 
perhaps would already have come to something, if he did 
not live in Nuremberg, and knew how to find the kind of 
poetry for which he has talent. There seems to me to be 
a good deal of humorous merit in it, although there are 
many defects. As you like to indulge in hope about 
young men, and can make use of all kinds of contribu- 
tions, it depends on you whether relations shall be opened 
with him, and encouragement given to him. 

Fare you right well. Greet your dear wife. 

Gessler risks much by leaving the beauty to herself. I 
am sorry that we did not meet him. Meyer knows the 
lady. For the rest, there are many other strange comets 
abroad in the Heaven of Love and Hymen ; what they 
betoken and bring is uncertain. 



I enclose, likewise, a short historical Essay ; tell me 
your opinion of it, and in how far one can recommend a 
small collection of similar works to a publisher. 

Once more farewell. 

Weimar, 9th December, 1797. 



Jena, 12th December, 1797. 

As I just now have the love-scenes in the second Act of 
Wallenstein before me, I cannot think without heart-ache 
of the stage and the theatrical destination of the piece. 
For the arrangement of the whole requires that love shall 
— not so much through action, as rather through its calm 
self-subsistence, and its freedom from all aims — put itself 
in opposition to the remaining action, vi^hich is a restless 
organized striving after an end, and thereby completes a 
certain human circle. But, in this quality, it is not adapt- 
ed to the stage, at least not in the sense that would be 
practicable with our means of representation and our 
public. In order, therefore, to preserve poetic freedom, I 
must banish from my mind all thought of scenic represen- 

Should it really be that tragedy, on account of its pathetic 
power, does not accord with your nature ? In all your 
poetic creations, I find the entire tragic power and depth, 
such as would suffice for a complete tragedy ; in Wilhelm 
Meister there is, as far as regards feeling, more than one 
tragedy. I believe that merely the severe straight line, 
according to which the tragic poet must proceed, does not 
suit your nature, which always likes to express itself with 
a freer play of mind. Then, I believe, also, a certain refer- 
ence to the spectator, with which the tragic poet cannot 



dispense, the aim to produce an effect, the outward impres- 
sion, which with this species of poetry must not be entire- 
ly overlooked, hems you in disagreeably, and perhaps you 
are the less adapted for a tragic poet on this very account, 
that you are so entirely formed for a poet in the generic sig- 
nificance of the word. At least, I find in you all the poetic 
qualities of the tragic poet in the richest measure, and if, 
notwithstanding, it be true that you cannot write a per- 
fectly genuine tragedy, the cause must lie in the un-poetic 

Have the goodness to take an opportunity of enclosing to 
me some play-bills, on which are all the actors. 

Your idea of uniting the three libraries in one whole, 
every reasonable person in Jena and Weimar will assured- 
ly wish carried into effect. 


Einsiedel's work on the theatre contains many good 
opinions. It is diverting to me how Dilettanti of this kind 
express themselves on certain things, which can only be 
drawn out of the depth of science and contemplation, as for 
example, what he says about style and manner, &lc. 

Fare you right well. Heartily do I rejoice at the pros- 
pect of our evenings. My Avife is very curious about the 
Comets that are circling through the Heaven of Love and 
Hymen. Greet Meyer. 



The new works of Art in our house bring us to-day an 
early visit of ladies ; on this account, only so much in 

A description of the capabilities of our actors I will my- 
self make for you in a few days, with particular reference 



to your piece, of the demands of which I have a general 

For the rest, do you only go on without anxiety. The 
inward unity that Wallenstein will have must be felt, and 
you have great privileges on the stage. An ideal whole 
makes an imposing impression on people, even though they 
are not capable of deciphering it in detail, nor of appreciat- 
ing the merit of the individual parts. 

From a singular cause I am required to reflect upon the 
German Theatre in general, and as I am often obliged to 
sit in*the play-house against my will, I try to turn this 
sacrifice to some account. 

Fare you right well ; I rejoice that the time approaches 
which will bestow on me a collected existence and your 

Weimar, 13th December, 1797. 



Jena, 15th December, 1797. 

Our Poetess Mereau is with me, and so for to-day I can 
only write a few words. 

Of the Historical Essay, which I here send back, and Oi 
others of the same stamp, there is not much to be made. 
It is far too dry and barren, and in spite of the useless 
parade with authorities and historic reading, contains 
nothing new of the slightest importance that could throw 
light upon the event or even make it more interesting. If, 
however, the intention is merely to earn something with it, 
this will be sooner attained by insertion in journals like the 
Mercury and others, than by making a separate collec- 



I have already often wished, that among the many lite- 
rary speculations of men who are capable of no other work 
than that of compilation, some one would fall upon the 
idea of hunting up poetic subjects in old books, and should 
possess, at the same time, a certain tact, to discover the 
punctum saliens in a story of no apparent interest. I have 
never access to such sources, and my poverty in such 
subjects makes me really more unfruitful in producing than 
I otherwise should be. It seems to me that a certain Hy- 
ginus, a Greek, once collected a number of tragic fables, 
either out of the poets or for their use. A friend like this 
I could make good use of. A wealth in materials for 
possible use really augments one's inward wealth ; nay, 
more, it exercises an important power ; and it is of itself of 
great use to put life into a subject, if only in thought, and 
to try one's self thereon. 

Elisa von der Recke has sent me a play of her own 
invention and execution, with plenipotentiary right to alter 
and to erase. I will see whether 1 can use it for the 
Horen; it is, as you caii easily imagine, of a very moral 
character, and so I hope it may slip through. I must 
provide in every way for the Horen. And that such moral 
people surrender themselves at discretion to us heretics 
and free thinkers, particularly after the so crying misde- 
meanor with the Xenia, is always a certain satisfaction. 

Humboldt has again let us hear nothing from him for six 
weeks. I conclude from this that he has at last gone to 

Farewell for to-day. My wife sends best greetings. 





Here I send you Hyginus, and I would at the same 
time advise you to procure the Adagia of Erasmus, which 
are easily to be had. As the ancient sayings rest mostly 
on geographical, historical, national, and individual rela- 
tions, they contain a great treasure of material substance. 
Unhappily we know from experience, that no one can seek 
a poet's subjects for him ; nay, that he himself often makes 

The Horen have now, as it seems, their female period ; 
't will %e well if they only thereby maintain their literary 

I am just now fit neither for large things nor small, and 
am only reading meanwhile, in order to keep with the 
good, Herodotus and Thucydides, in which for the first 
time I have a perfectly pure pleasure, because I read them 
only on account of their form and not their contents. 

My greatest wish now is to be soon with you and to 
feel once more the approach of the Sun ; in the meantime 
I make as good use as possible of the gloomy and bad 
days. Fare you right well, and do you the like. 

Weimar, 16th December, 1797. 



I WISH and hope that the present letter may find you 
again in a tolerable state of health, and I thank your deaK 
wife for her letter, which gave me an especial pleasure 
through the transmission of the vigorous marrowy natural 

Your letter of the second of October, together with the 



Almanac, has also come back again, and there is therefore 
wanting nothing more in our reciprocal correspondence. 

Since the appearance of Schlegel's review of my Herr- 
mann, I have again thought over the laws of the Epopee 
and the Drama, and think I am in a good path. The dif- 
ficulty in these theoretical endeavors is always to free the 
different species of poetry from everything accidental. 
You will at an early day receive a small treatise thereon, 
and I will not therefore say anything beforehand. 

Meyer knows very well the author of the Elegies in the 
Almanac, and will himself one day give you an account of 
him ; he is a sculptor by vocation. I long for nothing now 
so much as for your Wallenstein. 

Do recover soon again from your illness. Would that 
I could spend with you these days which promise to be so 
cheerful ! 

Weimar, 20lh December, 1797. 



Jena, 22d December, 1797. 

My bad attack passed off quickly and happily, but it has 
weakened and untuned me for the whole week, so that I 
cannot even think of anything poetic. To this, too, comes 
the bad weather, to make all activity stagnate within me. 

Schlegel's review of your Herrmann I have not yet seen, 
and know not by which Schlegel it is. Be it, however, by 
which one it will, neither is fully equal to doing it ; for to 
appreciate this poem there is required especially a refined 
sensibility, and in this both are deficient, although they 
assume to themselves the terminology thereof. 



Your treatise occasioned thereby I await with eager- 
ness; or will you not soon bring it yourself? 

We should like very much to know how soon we may 
count upon your arrival. It will now soon be a half year 
that we have not lived together. 

I beg you to greet Meyer for me. I am very sorry to 
be so long without seeing his works. 

Fare you right well. 





The Epic and Dramatic poet are both subject to univer- 
sal laws, especially to the law of unity and the law of de- 
velopment ; further, they both treat of similar subjects, 
and both may use all kinds of motives ;t the great essen- 
tial difference between them consists therein, that the Epic 
poet presents the event as perfectly past, and the Dramatic 
represents it as perfectly present. If any one should wish 
to derive from the nature of man the detail of the laws 
according to which both are to proceed, he must figure to 
himself a rhapsodist and a mimic, the former surrounded 

* Goethe unites Schiller's name with his own, because the opi- 
nions here set forth by him were chiefly the result of their discussion 
of the subject in letters and conversation. 

t By motives, motiven in German, are here meant the sources 
of action in a poetic work. 



with his quiet listening circle, the latter with his impatient 
gazing and hearing circle, and it would not be difficult to 
unfold what profits most each of those two kinds of poe- 
try, what subjects each will in preference choose, of what 
motives it will in preference avail itself ; I say in prefer- 
ence, for, as I already in the beginning remarked, neither 
can exclusively assume anything to itself. 

The subjects of the Epos and of Tragedy should be 
purely human, important and pathetic ; the personages 
stand best on a certain grade of civilisation, where the 
inward activity is still directed solely on itself, where one 
does not exert influence morally, politically, mechanically, 
but personally. The traditions out of the heroic times of 
the Greeks were in this sense particularly favorable to the 

The Epic poem exhibits particularly personally restrict- 
ed activity ; Tragedy, personally restricted sufi'ering. The 
Epic poem represents man acting out of himself, — battles, 
travels, every kind of undertaking that requires a certain 
physical breadth : Tragedy, man led inward ; and the ac- 
tions of genuine Tragedy need therefore very little room. 

Of motives, I know five kinds : 

1 . Forward striding^ which further the action ; of these 
the Drama chiefly avails itself. 

2. Backward striding, which carry the action away 
from its aim ; of these the Epic poem avails itself almost 

3. Retarding, which, arrest the progress, or lengthen the 
road ; of these, both species avail themselves with the 
greatest advantage. 

4. Back grasping, through which that which happened 
before the epoch of the poem, is taken up into it. 



5. Forward grasping^ which anticipate that which will 
happen after the epoch of the poem ; both the Epic and 
Dramatic poet use these two kinds, to make their poems 

The worlds, that are to be brought to view, are common 
to both. 

1 . The physical, and first that which is nearest, to which 
the represented personages belong and which surrounds 
them ; in this the Dramatic poet stands for the most part 
fixed on one point — the Epic moves more freely in a 
larger space. Secondly, the more remote physical world, 
in which I embrace entire Nature ; this the Epic poet, who 
in general appeals to the imagination, brings nearer through 
similes, which the Dramatic uses more sparingly. 

2. The moral world is entirely common to both, and is 
most advantageously exhibited in its physiological and pa- 
thological simplicity. 

3. The world of phantasies, bodings, apparitions, acci- 
dents, and fatalities. This is open to both, only it is to be 
understood, that it be brought in contact with the world of 
sense ; and here arises for the moderns a particular diffi- 
culty, because, however much it were to be desired, we do 
not easily find a substitute for the prodigies, gods, pro- 
phets and oracles of the ancients. 

As regards the treatment on the whole, the Rhapsodist, 
who holds up to us the perfectly past, will appear as a 
wise man, who, in calm thoughtfulness, surveys what has 
happened ; his discourse will aim to calm his auditors in 
order that they may listen to him with contentment and 
long ; he will apportion the interest equally, because it is 
not in his power quickly to balance a too lively impres- 
sion ; he will grasp or go backwards or forwards at plea- 



sure ; he will be followed throughout, for he has only to do 
with the faculty of imagination, which itself produces its 
images, and to which, up to a certain degree, it is indiffer- 
ent what kind it calls up. The Rhapsodist should not 
himself appear as a higher being in his poem ; it would 
be much the best that he read behind a curtain, so that 
there would be a total abstraction from personality, and it 
would seem as though one heard only the voice of the 

The Mimic, on the other hand, is precisely in the oppo- 
site case ; he presents himself as a definite individual, he 
wishes that we take an interest exclusively in him and 
what is immediately round him, that we feel with him the 
sufferings of his body and his soul, share his embarrass- 
ments and forget ourselves in him. It is true, that he will 
go to work by degrees, but he can venture upon much 
more lively strokes, because, with sensuous presence, even 
the stronger impression may be effaced by a weaker one . 
The gazing listener must necessarily remain with his 
senses constantly on the stretch, he cannot lift himself up 
to reflection, he must follow with his passions, his imagina- 
tion is silenced, no demands can be made on it, and even 
what is narrated must as it were be brought visibly be- 
fore us. 

Inclosed you receive my Essay, which I beg you to 
weigh, to apply, to modify, and to enlarge. I have for a 
few days past made use of these criteria in reading the 
Iliad and Sophocles, as well as on some epic and tragic 
subjects, which I endeavored in thought to organize, and 
they appeared to me very available, nay decisive. 

On this occasion it occurred to me how it happens, that 



we moderns are so inclined to mix the different kinds of 
poetry together, nay, that we are not at all capable of dis- 
tinguishing them one from another. It seems to me to 
proceed from this, that artists, who ought to produce works 
of Art within their pure conditions, complacently yield to 
that striving of spectators and hearers to find everything 
perfectly true. Meyer has remarked that there has been 
an attempt to force all kinds of plastic art up to painting, 
because this can, through keeping and color, present the 
imitation as perfectly true. So also in the progress of 
poetry, one sees that everything runs with the dramatic, 
into the exhibition of the perfectly present. So are novels 
inletters fully romantic ; thence formal dialogues may pro- 
perly be introduced, as Richardson has done ; on the other 
hand, narrative novels with dialogues intermixed, would 
be censurable. 

You will have heard a hundred times, that people, after 
reading a good novel, have wished to see the subject on 
the stage, and how many bad plays have thence arisen ! 
Just so they wish to see every interesting situation in a 
novel at once engraved, in order that, to their imagination, 
no kind of activity be left ; thus everything must be 
brought before the senses, be perfectly present, be drama- 
tic, and the dramatic itself must put itself fully b}-^ the side 
of the really true. Now, these thoroughly childish, bar- 
baric, tasteless tendencies the artist should oppose with 
all his might, should separate work from work with im- 
passable magic circles, keep each one to its quality and its 
peculiarities, as the ancients did, and thereby became and 
were such artists. But who can separate his ship from 
the waves on which it swims ? Against wind and current 
one makes little head-way. 



Thus, for example, among the ancients, bas-relief was 
only a slightly raised work, a flat tasteful indication of a 
subject on a flat surface ; but people could not keep to that, 
it was half raised, wholly raised, limbs were separated 
from the surface, figures were separated, perspective intro- 
duced, streets, clouds, mountains, and landscapes repre- 
sented ; and because this took place through men of talent, 
what was thoroughly inadmissible found admission the 
sooner, as, by the very talent applied, it was adapted the 
more completely to the minds of the uncultivated. So in 
Meyer's treatise, is related the story, which is well in its 
place here, how in Florence the figures made of clay were 
first glazed, then painted with one color, and finally with 
several, and enamelled. 

To come back, now, td my Essay, I have applied the 
scale therein proposed, to my Herrmann and Dorothea, and 
beg you to do the same, whereby I have made very inter- 
esting observations ; as, for example, 

1. That no exclusively epic motive, that is, none that 
retrogrades, is found therein, but that only the four others, 
which the Epic poem has in common with the Drama, are 
made use of. 

2. That it represents not men acting out of themselves, 
but men led inward, and thereby also is removed from the 
Epopee, and approaches the Drama. 

3. That it abstains from similitudes with reason, be- 
cause, to a more moral subject, the intrusion of images 
from physical nature would be burthensome. 

4. That out of the third world, although this is extraor- 
dinary, it has received quite enough influence, inasmuch as 
the great world-destiny is interwoven, in part really, and 
in part through persons symbolically, and of bodement, of 



connection between a visible and invisible world, gentle 
indications are also given, which, together, according to 
my conviction, stand in the place of the ancient figures of 
gods, whose physical poetical power is indeed not thereby 

In conclusion I must further announce to you a strange' 
task that I have given myself in reference to this matter, 
namely, to investigate whether between Hector's death 
and the departure of the Greeks from the Trojan coast, 
there does or does not lie another Epic poem ? I almost 
presume the latter, and that for the following reasons : 

1. Because there is found nothing retrogressive, but 
everything strides irresistibly forward. 

2. Because all the events that are in some measure 
retarding divide the interest among several persons, and 
although in a great mass, yet not unlike private destinies. 
The Death of Achilles seems to me a noble tragic subject ; 
the death of Ajax, the return of Philoctetes, have come 
down to us from the ancients. Polyxena, Hecuba, and 
other subjects out of this epoch, were also treated. The 
conquest of Troy itself is, as the moment of fulfilment of 
a great destiny, neither epic nor tragic, and in a genuine 
epic treatment can only be seen forwards or backwards in 
the distance. Virgil's rhetorical sentimental treatment 
cannot here come into view. 

So much of what I at present discern, salvo meliori ; 
for, if I mistake not, this subject is, like many others, 
theoretically inexpressible. What Genius has produced, 
we at any rate see ; who will say what it could and 
should produce ? 






The contraposition of the Rhapsodist and Mimic, to- 
gether with their respective auditories, seems to me a very 
happily chosen means to get at the difference of the two 
kinds of poetry. This method alone would be sufficient 
'to render impossible a gross mistake in the choice of the 
subject for the kind of poetry, or of the kind of poetry 
for the subject. Experience also confirms it ; for I know 
of nothing that would hold one, who was working out a 
drama, so strictly within the limits of the poetic species, 
and in case one should overstep them, would so surely 
bring him back, as the liveliest possible fiiguring to himself 
of the real representation on the boards of a thronged and 
promiscuous house, whereby is brought so home to one 
the unquiet expectation, and consequently the law of in- 
tense restless forward-striding and movement. 

I would propose a second expedient for bringing to 
view this difference. The dramatic action moves itself 
before me, around the epic I move, and it appears as it 
were to stand still. According to my opinion, there is 
much in this difference. If the event keeps itself in 
motion before me, I am strictly chained to the present, my 
fancy loses all freedom, there arises and continues an in- 
cessant unrest in me, I must always stick to the object, 
all looking back, all reflection is denied to me, because I 
obey a foreign power. If I move round the event, which 
cannot escape me, I can then go at an irregular gait, I 
can tarry a longer or a shorter time, according to my sub- 
jective need, I can make steps backward or forward, &e. 
This accords also very well with the idea of the pasi^ 
which can be conceived as standing still, and with the 
idea of narration ; for the narrator knows already in the 



beginning and in the middle the end, and to him conse- 
quently each movement of the active is of equal import, 
and thus he maintains throughout a calm freedom. 

That the Epic poet has to treat his event as perfectly- 
past, the Tragic his as perfectly present, is very clear to 

I will further add : there grows out of this an exciting 
conflict of Poetry as Geims with its Species, which, in 
Nature as in Art, is very animated. Poetry, as such, 
makes everything sensuously present, and so it obliges 
the Epic poet likewise to make present what is past, only 
that the character of this past must not be defaced. Po- 
etry, as such, makes all that is present past, and removes 
to a distance all that is near (through Ideality), and thus it 
obliges the Dramatic poet to keep far removed individual 
reality which always tends to force itself upon us, and to 
impart to the mind a poetic freedom against the subject. 
Tragedy, therefore, in its highest idea, will always strive 
upwards to the Epic character, and only thereby attains to 
being poetry. The Epic poem will just so strive down- 
wards to the Drama, and only thereby perfectly fulfil the 
idea of poetic genus ; just that which makes both to be 
poetic works, brings both near to one another. The 
token by which they are specified and opposed to one 
another, always brings one of the two constituent parts of 
the poetic generic idea into danger ; with the Epopee 
Sensuousness, with Tragedy Freedom ; and it is therefore 
natural, that the contrcpoids against this defect will al- 
ways be a quality which constitutes the specific token of 
the opposite species. Each, therefore, will do the other 
the service of taking the Genus under its protection 
against the Species. That this reciprocal tendency to- 



wards each other shall not degenerate into a mingling and 
confounding of boundaries, that is just the proper duty of 
Art, whose brightest point in general is always this, to 
unite character with beauty, purity, and fullness, unity with 

Your Herrmann has really a certain inclination to 
Tragedy, if you place it by the side of the pure severe idea 
of the Epopee. The heart is occupied more warmly and 
earnestly ; there is therein more pathological interest than 
poetic indifference. So also do the narrowness of the 
locale, the fewness of the figures, the short range of the 
action belong to Tragedy. On the other hand, your 
Iphigenia evidently strikes into the Epic field, so soon as 
you hold up to it the strict idea of Tragedy. Of Tasso, I 
will not speak at all. For Tragedy, there is in Iphige- 
nia a too tranquil progress, a too great tarrying by the 
way, not to consider the catastrophe, which contradicts 
Tragedy. The effect of this piece, as I have experienced 
it, partly on myself, partly on others, is generic, poetic 
and tragic ; and so it always will be when a Tragedy, in 
the Epic style, misses its end. But, in your Iphigenia, 
this approximation to the Epic is a fault, according to my 
idea ; in your Herrmann the inclination to Tragedy is 
obviously no fault, at least in the effect not at all so. 
Does this perhaps proceed thence, that Tragedy is de- 
signed for a definite use, the Epic poem for a universal 
and free one ? 

For to-day nothing more. I am still unfit for any regu- 
lar work, only your letter and treatise have been able in 
the meanwhile to give me occupation. Farewell. 





Sorry as L am to hear that you have not yet recovered 
all your activity, it is, nevertheless, agreeable to me that 
my letter and treatise have, in some measure, occupied 
you. I thank you for yours, which carries still further a 
matter which must be so important to us. Unhappily we 
moderns are also occasionally born poets, and we fret our- 
selves round through the Genus of Poetry, without rightly 
knowing what we should be at ; for the specific indica- 
tions, if I mistake not, should come from without, and the 
occasion give direction to the talent. Why do we so sel- 
dom make an epigram in the Grecian sense ? Because 
we see so few things that deserve one. Why are we so 
successful with the epic ? Because we have no listeners. 
And why is the striving after theatrical works so great ? 
Because, with us, the drama is the only attractive kind of 
poetry that addresses itself to the senses, from whose 
practice one can hope for a certain present enjoyment. 

I have continued these past days to study the Iliad, in 
order to consider whether, between it and the Odyssey, 
there lie not another epopee. I find, however, only tra- 
gic subjects, either that such is really the case, or that I 
only cannot find the epic one. The Death of Achilles, 
with its accompaniments, would admit of an epic treat- 
ment, and, in a certain measure, would require it, on 
account of the breadth of the material to be worked up. 
Now would arise the question, whether one would do well 
likewise to treat a tragic subject epically ? Much may be 
said for and against it. As regards the effect, a modern, 
who works for moderns, would always find advantage in 
it, because without pathological interest one will hardly 
obtain the approbation of the age. So much for this time. 



Meyer is working diligently at his treatise on subjects 
suitable for the plastic Arts ; everything that interests us 
comes up for consideration, and it is shown how closely 
related the plastic artist is to the dramatist. 

27th December, 1797. 


CCCXCVIl. (a) 

Jena, 29th December, 1797. 

Our friend Humboldt, from whom I here enclose to you 
a long letter, remains in transformed Paris, true to his old 
Germanism, and seems to have changed nothing but his 
outward environment. With a certain way of philosophiz- 
ing and of feeling, it is as with a certain religion ; it cuts 
off from without and isolates, at the same time that from 
within it increases the heartiness. 

Your present occupation, to separate and to purify the 
two kinds, is, indeed, of the highest importance, but with 
me you will be convinced, that to exclude from a work of 
art all that is foreign to its kind, one should also necessa- 
rily be able to include everything that is suitable to the 
kind. But it is just this that is now wanting. Because 
we cannot bring the conditions together under which each 
of the two kinds stand, we are obliged to confound them. 
Were there rhapsodists and a world for them, the epic 
would then not need to borrow motives from the tragic, 
and had we the aids and intensive powers of the Greek 
tragedy, and therewith the privilege to lead our hearers 
through a series of seven representations, we should not 
then need to extend our dramas to an unreasonable 
length. The capacity of feeling in the spectator and 
hearer must be filled, and be touched in all the points of its 



periphery ; the diameter of this capacity is the measure 
for the poet. And because the moral quality is that which 
is most developed, it is that also which exacts the most, 
and we may dare at our peril to neglect it. 

If the drama has really come into vogue through so bad 
a tendency of the age, which I do not doubt, reform should 
be commenced with the drama, and air and light should be 
let in upon Art by driving out the common imitation of 
nature. And this, it seems to me, could be best done, by 
the introduction of symbolic shifts, which, in all that does 
not belong to the true world of Art of the poet, and, there- 
fore, is not to be exhibited, but merely indicated, should 
take the place of the subject. I have not yet been able 
fully to unfold to myself this idea of the symbolical in 
poetry, but there seems to me to be much in it. Were its 
use once defined, the natural consequence would be, that 
poetry would purify itself, would contract its world into a 
narrower and more significant compass, and within the 
same become so much the more effective. 

I had always a certain faith in the Opera, that out of it, 
as out of the choruses of the ancient festival of Bacchus, 
tragedy would develope itself in a higher form. In the 
Opera, one is free from that servile imitation of nature, 
and, although only under the name of indulgence, in this 
way the ideal might steal upon the stage. Through the 
power of music, and through a freer harmonious excite- 
ment of the senses, the Opera attunes the mind to a finer 
sensibility ; here then is really, even in pathos, a freer 
play, because Music accompanies it, and the wonderful, 
which is here borne with, necessarily creates indifference 
a^to the subject. 


I am very anxious to see Meyer's treatise ; no doubt 
many applications to poetry will be deducible from it. 

By degrees I get into my work again, but with this hor- 
rible weather it is really hard to keep one's mind elastic. 

May you soon be free, and bring with you to me, 
activity, courage, and life. Fare you right well. 



As I expect early to-day a company to see Meyer's 
works, I will only herewith thank you for your and Hum- 
boldt's letter. 

I am of your opinion that we must separate so severely, 
only in order afterwards to be able to allow oneself some 
scope by making adoptions from foreign sources. One 
works altogether differently from principles than from in- 
stinct, and a deviation, of the necessity whereof one is con- 
vinced, cannot become a fault. 

Theoretic views cannot much longer suffice me ; I must 
now once more go to work, and for that I must betake my- 
self to the old Jena sopha, as to a tripod. Fare you right 
well. I am sorry that your dear wife hurried away again 
so soon, and could not even make a pilgrimage to our 
treasures of Art. The hope which you had in the Opera, 
you would lately have seen fulfilled in Don Juan in a high 
degree ; in that respect, however, this piece stands quite 
isolated, and through Mozart's death, all prospect of any- 
thing similar is frustrated. 

Weimar, 30th December, 1797.